The State Comptroller has slammed poor planning and the ballooning budget for the new prime minister's residence and office, which for security reasons cannot be built on its original site.
The State Comptroller's report expressed concern over the ballooning cost of building the new prime minister's residence and office, called 'Project Almog.' The estimated cost of the project in the original plan in 2009 by architect Ram Karmi was NIS 650 million. In 2018 Carmi calculated that the cost had risen to NIS 1.2 billion, mainly because of increased costs for protecting the building by the Shin Bet.
In a cabinet meeting in 2015, it was decided that the new Prime Minister's residence and office should be completed at an estimated cost of NIS 1 billion. The rationale of the project is that it would make the work of the prime minister more efficient by combining his residence and office and cutting the security costs when the prime minister travels between the two.
But the State Comptroller's report today observes that even the final planning of the building has not yet been completed. The report slams the project for 'endangering major national interests' and the loss of significant financial resources.
The new prime minister's complex was originally slated for a seven acre site north of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Jerusalem's Yitzhak Rabin Boulevard.
But the Shin Bet objected to the site several years ago after learning about the 12 high-rise buildings planned for the nearby Jerusalem Gateway project at the western entrance to the city. New designs to enhance protection cost an estimated NIS 270 million while the State Comptroller suggest finding an alternative site.
The Prime Minister's Office said, "The Prime Minister's Office sees great importance in moving forward with a project that will provide a comprehensive operational and security envelope for the required activities. After a professional security opinion about the location of the project as the threats reflected in it were brought to the attention of the Office only in the latter stages of the work, it was immediately decided to suspend the project in the place decided on - a decision that has saved many millions."
"At the behest of the Office and before the State Comptroller's Report, and in full cooperation with the security services, there began and is currently being completed checks for a functional, efficient alternative for the project, while stressing cutting costs, maximum streamlining and minimum impact on the buildings surrounding it. Due to the delay in implementing the project, the security services have ordered the implementation of temporary protection works on the existing buildings that have not yet been carried out."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on August 3, 2020 © Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2020