High-quality infrastructure is an important element of a modern society and economy. Investment in public infrastructure is vital for the competitiveness of the economy, as well as to underpin social cohesion through the provision of key services in the form of schools, health facilities, public transport and housing. The current capital plan “Building on Recovery” provides for €42 billion of capital investment for the period 2016-2021. In addition, the Government proposes an additional €5.1 billion in capital spending over this period, which is welcomed. However, the 2016 spend, together with that proposed for 2017, is well below what is required in a healthy economy, and is much less than average EU funding levels.
The ACEI supports Engineers Ireland’s call for the establishment of a single entity charged with prioritising integrated infrastructure development in this country, namely a national infrastructural council. This entity should be established on a statutory basis with the remit of providing government with expert, independent advice on infrastructural issues. The council should set out a clear, strategic vision and priorities for future infrastructure, in order to unlock economic potential and ensure that growth and opportunities are distributed across the country, thus boosting productivity and competitiveness.
A key requirement in this regard will be a construction sector that can deliver the required infrastructure and services to support continued economic growth.As interest rates remain at historically low levels, the time is opportune to support a recovery in the construction sector so that it can renew the optimum capacity at a sustainable level to meet the economy’s requirements.
The delivery of high-quality infrastructure for housing, education, healthcare, utility, transport and communications are critical to societal wellbeing; our attractiveness as a destination for foreign direct investment; and retention of the best and brightest of our skilled and educated workforce. Sustainable economic growth requires robust, fit for purpose infrastructure. Ensuring appropriate levels of Government funding in this area will stimulate increased investment by the private sector, and will provide stable and long-term employment opportunities.
Dr SARAH INGLE,
Association of Consulting Engineers of Ireland,
Merrion Square, Dublin 2.