Quote-list from Tom Parlon, Director General of Construction Industry Federation on GE2016

Election promises on housing

CIF Director General, Tom Parlon said “During the election, all political parties made promises in relation to jobs, housing and infrastructure.  Currently, the cost of doing business means that construction companies will not be able to meet the promises made by candidates.  This has the potential to stymie economic growth across the country.

Recovery

“The message from this election has been to paraphrase Bill Clinton’s campaign manager; “It’s the recovery, stupid”.  Any future Government will have to ensure economic recovery spreads to rural communities and towns outside the greater Dublin area.  Construction companies are currently driving jobs growth, with over 1,000 new jobs in the sector a month last year. Making it viable for companies outside Dublin to build has the potential to drive economic growth across all communities around Ireland.”

Property shortages in residential and commercial  

“Fine Gael has promised to deliver 25,000 new homes annually by 2021.   PWC recently forecast a significant shortfall in commercial property in the capital city that could see rent approach 2007 levels if unaddressed.  In terms of infrastructure, Ireland fell four places to 23rd place last year in the OECD infrastructural investment rankings.  This month, the head of Tourism Ireland identified the need to double the number of hotel rooms in Ireland being built if we are to sustain Ireland’s impressive tourist numbers next year.    These pressures, if not matched with activity in the construction sector, can worsen the housing crisis, the two tier recovery and negatively affect FDI levels.

This all points to the need for rapid increase in construction activity.  It’s worth noting that the sector currently accounts for only 7% of GNP, whilst a figure of 12% of GNP is considered ‘sustainable’ in a developed economy.  However, construction companies have consistently told Government that they haven’t capacity to deliver this volume of projects due to a lack of available finance and out of kilter costs.  Simply put, the sums don’t add up for construction companies.

Ministerial portfolio for construction and infrastructure required

A specific Ministerial portfolio is required to coordinate the many agencies involved in this vital economic sector.  No fewer than five Government Departments (and myriad State Agencies) have responsibility for important aspects of the sector.

It’s interesting to note that the UK Government has taken the lead and established an Infrastructure Commission to coordinate action across Government Departments and to put in place a strategy that will last longer than the next electoral cycle.

The CIF believes that a similar approach in Ireland could generate 60,000 jobs spread across all Irish communities up to 2020.  Construction is already the joint highest provider of jobs and it created 1,000 jobs a month throughout 2015.

In 2014, Construction 2020 was launched with a view to delivering a sustainable construction sector. CIF is calling on all political parties to agree to appoint a Minister tasked with implementing 2020 in collaboration with the relevant public and private sector organisations together.”

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