Thursday 23 March 2017

Threat of more building cuts despite State cash boost plea

Ailish O'Hora Public Affairs Correspondent

THE construction industry could be in for more painful cuts in the next Budget.

Transport Minister Noel Dempsey last night said he could not could not rule out additional cuts to public building schemes on top of the €1bn cost savings already announced.

The minister was responding to claims by construction and union bosses that the Government is not meeting its spending targets on public projects and further job losses will result.

"I can't anticipate the government decision in the Budget. Final decisions have yet to be made but we are committed to the projects we have already announced," he told the Irish Independent.

The Construction Industry Council (CIC) said 70,000 jobs could be saved over the next two years if the Government kickstarts spending on building projects. It claimed that for every €1bn in investment, 14,000 jobs could be saved.

The CIC held a conference yesterday to launch an initiative to encourage renewed government spending.

Value

The council, which has 45,000 members, including the Construction Industry Federation, urged the Government to maintain -- and in some cases increase -- annual levels of capital spending of over €5bn as set out in the last Budget.

Dublin Chamber of Commerce president Peter Brennan urged the Government to take advantage of the "value for money" now available, with tender prices down 30pc since 2007.

"This is an ideal time for these projects to be kickstarted," he said, adding that several schemes had already been delayed, including the second runway at Dublin Airport and the Grangegorman redevelopment plan.

The conference heard employment in the industry had fallen to 210,000 from a peak of 401,240 in 2007.

Representatives of bodies like employers' group IBEC and trade union ICTU told the conference that as building projects like the Aviva Stadium end, many workers will end up unemployed.

ICTU's Fergus Whelan said the Government should explore further an earlier proposal by the council that the €70bn invested abroad by private Irish pension funds be used to finance public schemes.

Meanwhile, Enterprise Minister Batt O'Keeffe claimed up to 10,000 new jobs could be created in one year as a result of the introduction of a PRSI holiday for employers who take on staff.

Irish Independent

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