Monday 18 December 2017

Half-baked initiatives lack substance to satisfy needs

Construction 2020 and the mortgage guarantee are just like so many other poorly planned schemes, says James Fitzsimons

Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore pictured at The National Sports Campus, Abbotstown, Dublin. Picture: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore pictured at The National Sports Campus, Abbotstown, Dublin. Picture: Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin.

James Fitzsimons

LAST week Enda Kenny, and Eamon Gilmore launched Construction 2020, an initiative to get the building industry going again and to create over 60,000 jobs in construction. In principle, it's a great idea, but like so many other half-baked government initiatives, it's a vote-getter in advance of the upcoming elections and it lacks the substance to be in any way effective.

It's like the latest government quango – Irish Water. Some €200m has been earmarked for Construction 2020. That's probably what Irish Water will pay consultants to justify putting water meters on leaky pipes. Some things never change. If the initiative got 60,000 plumbers, electricians, bricklayers, plasterers and other construction workers off the dole queues and out of the black economy, you wouldn't mind. But how much will it cost before even one red cent gets to any of them? Too much; and it might never get to them. Something else might revitalise the building industry, and the Government will claim it as a victory for itself, even though we all know that it's not the case.

In conjunction with Construction 2020, the Minister for Finance, Michael Noonan has launched a mortgage guarantee scheme for first-time buyers. Another half-baked scheme. Word has it that we don't have enough three-bed semis and even if we had, the banks won't lend money to those who want to buy them. If the overpaid bankers are not willing to take the risk, they've made themselves redundant. Sack them and move on, but don't do their job for them.

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