Building lobby warns against spending cuts
THE lobby group representing Ireland's embattled construction sector has called on the Government to hold firm on next year's planned €5bn capital spend to save and create jobs.
The Construction Industry Federation (CIF) also wants the Government to suspend stamp duty and introduce a range of other incentives to bolster the flagging industry.
CIF boss Tom Parlon yesterday acknowledged that similar calls from his lobby group had fallen on deaf ears last year, but he said the worsening economic situation might make the Government more receptive now.
"We're saying we have the capacity to create jobs," he said, pointing to CIF figures showing that every €1m spent on infrastructure creates 10-12 jobs, with each worker paying about €18,000 a year in tax.
"It's not a political issue now, it's a financial issue," Mr Parlon stressed, adding that there was "superb" value to be had from carrying out infrastructure projects now.
As well as calling on the Government to keep investment up, the CIF's lengthy pre-Budget submission also moots a raft of new tax incentives that could stimulate activity.
Demands include suspending stamp duty to kickstart the property market, with Mr Parlon pointing out that very little stamp duty was being collected now, given the sluggish market.
The CIF also wants the Government to extend mortgage interest relief for new home buyers beyond its current June 2011 cut-off date, and to clamp down on black-market activity.
Mr Parlon stressed that while the other measures outlined by the CIF were important, the "big message" was the need for the Government to reinforce its capital spending commitments.
The CIF boss also addressed recent commentary about the level of salaries being sanctioned for developers whose loans have gone into the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA), describing the reports as "rubbish".
Weekend reports claimed that NAMA was allowing developers to pay themselves as much as €200,000 in return for their co-operation in working out their debt-ridden portfolios.
NAMA has since clarified that it does not sanction salaries and instead operates by sanctioning general overhead levels, which are typically cut by 50 to 75pc.
Mr Parlon also said the bulk of his membership was "nothing like" the big-name developer class that frequently made headlines.
While CIF represents some developers, it also represents sub-contractors, road builders and civil engineers.