Thursday 22 February 2018

Implementing construction reforms in report vital for sector to prosper

Micheal O'Connor

In a recent survey on investment in infrastructure by the World Economic Forum, Ireland ranked 24th out of the 32 OECD countries.

According to figures from the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI), the output of the Irish construction industry will be around €7.5bn this year, down from €39bn at the peak.

Last year, the Government commissioned Forfas, Ireland's policy advisory board, to produce a report on the Irish construction industry and make recommendations for reform.

In recent years, Irish specialist construction contractors have been very successful in designing and building for multinational pharmaceutical and technology companies.

The availability of these specialist skills in Ireland is an important consideration for multinational companies in deciding to locate here. By investing in education and training, we can further develop our reputation as world-class construction specialists.

Public capital investment has fallen from 18pc to 6pc since 2008. An increase in the number of public private partnerships (PPPs) and investment from pension funds would help augment these declines.

Further investment in the commercial property stock is also needed. It is vital that we have the appropriate facilities in place to attract investment from international companies.

The retrofitting of existing buildings offers a quick and economical way of providing suitable office stock for both foreign and local companies.

A reduction in the VAT rate to 5pc on retrofitting would incentivise building owners to improve their buildings, which would have a positive effect on our overall competitiveness.

The Forfas report presents an opportunity for the construction sector to have a shared vision with Government in supporting our economic development, and it is vital that the report's recommendations be implemented.

Micheál O'Connor is president of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland (SCSI)

Irish Independent

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