Monday 22 January 2018

Builders call for 'rainy day' emergency fund to be spent now on construction

The Construction Industry Federation’s Tom Parlon. Photo: Mark Condren
The Construction Industry Federation’s Tom Parlon. Photo: Mark Condren
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Builders want the Government to scrap plans for a 'rainy day' fund in favour of more investment in infrastructure.

Amid spiralling property prices in parts of the country and slow progress on new builds, the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) says it is being hampered by the lack of roads, bridges and water facilities.

CIF president Tom Parlon told the Irish Independent his members believe "the rainy day period is here".

In the deal struck between Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil that allowed for the formation of a government, it was agreed that a fund would be established by 2019 to be set aside in case of a further economic shock. In his Budget Day speech last October, Finance Minister Michael Noonan indicated he wanted to start building up a contingency fund of up to €1bn annually to be deployed in cases of emergency.

However, Mr Parlon said more capital spending was needed if the construction industry was to reach targets of 25,000 new houses per year. He argued that now was the time to start working on an alternative to the M50 in Dublin and objections were repeatedly being lodged against developments near the Dunkettle roundabout in Cork because of traffic concerns.

Even on the rural road between Birr, Co Offaly, and Roscrea, Co Tipperary, Mr Parlon said people can't get planning permission because of fears about the suitability of the roadways.

"Civil engineer work is falling and that's a sign there is a crisis," Mr Parlon said.

Last week, Housing Minister Simon Coveney announced more than €200m for infrastructure projects but the CIF believes this is not enough.

Fianna Fáil's housing spokesman Barry Cowen said the Government needed to put more emphasis on supply rather than demand.

His party wants Mr Coveney to create opportunities for credit unions, pensions funds and other potential investors to get involved.

"This is a crisis and an emergency. We are just about at the point where it's getting out of control despite all the warnings. I don't buy this idea that we would have to wait for the next budget.

"We have been responsible enough to let them form a government.

"And we'll be responsible enough to help emergency legislation or amendments to the Finance Bill if needed," Mr Cowen said.

Irish Independent

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