Saturday 18 November 2017

Stimulus plan strangled by grey mandarins

THE tunnel vision of ploughing almost half of our long-awaited €2.25bn stimulus package into roads proves we're still lacking the leadership to steer Ireland out of the crisis.

The fact that two of the projects -- a road connecting Gorey and Enniscorthy, and a bridge and motorway linking Kilkenny and Wexford -- are located smack dab in the Minister for Stimulus Brendan Howlin's own Wexford constituency confirms this cul-de-sac style of economic management. Surely €850m on roads could be better spent?

Sure, there are some interesting investment ideas -- like building a giant campus for the Dublin Institute of Technology in Grangegorman, or rolling out a network of primary care, as well as some boring (but necessary) ones like investing in more schools -- but there is nothing really imaginative.

There is no mention in the package of big ideas like investing in wind, wave, broadband or technology that would really position Ireland for the future.

The Government boasts the projects will create 13,000 new jobs -- but how many of them will prove sticky?

Every job, these days, is to be welcomed but most of the new crop will be in construction and so by their nature will be short-term. Ireland's genuine business leaders -- Eddie O'Connor, Michael O'Leary and Terry Clune -- should have been canvassed for their views.

They have the track record of creating real wealth and sustainable jobs. Ireland's political and civil service elite can only aspire to their ability and should have deferred to them when launching such an important initiative. Instead, the dead, grey hand of the mandarins took over.

Howlin's damp-squib package is a wasted opportunity.

Sunday Indo Business

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