The CIF has welcomed the €115 billion investment in infrastructure announced by Government today as a ‘potential gamechanger’. The announcement was made as part of the government’s ten-year public capital programme and National Planning Framework today.
CIF Director General, Tom stated that; “Today’s announcement could represent a game-changer for the construction industry, the economy and Irish society. The significant commitment to infrastructure and housing investment will enable the construction industry increase capacity significantly so as to deliver the essential housing, infrastructure and specialist buildings underpinning Ireland’s economic development over the next 25 years.
Implementation is now key. Many of the projects outlined in Ireland 2040 will take a decade to complete. Forward planning and engagement must begin as soon as possible; this could be the difference between major projects starting in two years instead of five. Most of the projects outlined with be subject to public sector procurement timeframes which often take years instead of months to complete. The Government must now take this opportunity to modernise procurement practices to ensure value for money for the exchequer.
The CIF also welcomes the Government’s commitment to establish the Construction Industry Group. This group is critical in ensuring that the industry can translate the ambition of the NPF into the world class infrastructure this country requires. The group, involving industry leaders and key Government Departments and State Agencies will collaborate on ensuring the industry has the skills, finance, and technology to deliver the NPF in a sustainable and cost-effective manner through modern construction practices.
The €115billion outlined today will give construction companies the confidence to invest in their businesses again. It will also provide confidence to the banking and investment sector so as to increase sustainable lending into construction projects again.
We expect to see significant increases in activity across all our sectors including civil engineering, main contracting, and housebuilding. It’s worth noting that over 170,000 workers left the Irish construction sector between 2007 and 2013 and over 14,000 businesses went bankrupt. For many of our regions sub-sectors such as contracting and housebuilding, the recovery never arrived, and they have been fundamentally undermined. The NPF and the quantum of investment in the ten-year capital programme could kickstart construction activity in the regions.
“Linking the National Planning Framework to ten-year investment programmes in the Public Capital programme mirrors global best practice identified by the CIF in numerous submission. The investment will yield significant economic benefits throughout Ireland and projects such as the M20 will ensure greater access to Ireland’s regions and enhance regional connectivity. Our industry will be front and centre in the delivery of these ambitious plans so it’s critical that we have a clear view of the project timeframes and progress over the lifetime of the capital programme. As a result, an infrastructure tracker is required to ensure the Industry can match capacity and investment Ireland’s changing economic and social requirements.
The challenge for our industry will now be to recruit talent. Just this month, the industry marked the fact that it has hired 50,000 people since the nadir of the recession in 2013; hiring up to 900 extra workers a month. For the first time in many years, parents and young people considering careers can look to construction and see a modern industry with a stable stream of work and excellent global career prospects.
Currently the industry accounts for approximately 7% of GNP well below the 15% level that is considered sustainable for a growing economy as Ireland’s. We, as an industry, and the Government will have to redouble their efforts to attract the thousands of workers required to fuel activity up to 2040.
“The NPF has the potential to be a game-changer for the economy and Irish society. It’s an excellent framework to develop a balanced economy where people can build a career and live comfortably across the country in thriving rural and urban settings if they choose to. We need our political system to show maturity and collaborate to ensure the NPF is put on a legislative footing otherwise it will fail.