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McCarthy 'unfair' to CIF

Sir -- In last week's Sunday Independent, Colm McCarthy criticised the Construction Industry Federation's (CIF) proposals around the energy retrofitting of buildings on the grounds that they would place a financing requirement on the Exchequer that could not be met in the current environment.

In fact, the CIF proposals set out a number of funding options, based on international experience, which require no upfront or continuing investment from the State.

Furthermore, such work would guarantee substantial and ongoing savings for the State by, amongst other things, reducing energy bills in schools, hospitals and other public buildings.

The CIF's key proposal in respect of public buildings is that the installation cost of energy-efficiency technologies and products would be borne by the private sector. The subsequent cost savings are shared between the private and public partners, in line with what happens internationally.

In the residential sector, the CIF proposal is to extend the obligations on energy providers to reduce demand by helping homeowners to meet the cost of retrofitting through 'pay as you save' funding arrangements.

These options don't cost the State a cent and the payback is potentially huge.

The Labour Party, in its pre-election policy documents, estimated that the retrofitting of Irish homes would create up to 30,000 jobs.

Including a focus on public buildings would mean that up to 40,000 jobs would be sustained annually over the lifetime of the programme.

More generally, Colm McCarthy appears to denigrate the proposals of the CIF and others, such as ICTU, on the basis that they represent the interests of our respective members.

The federation appropriately engages in the policy debate about the maintenance of these jobs and the development of new jobs in line with a sustainable construction sector into the future.

Yes, Ireland's fiscal situation is dire, but continuing to cut the very limited productive investment occurring in the State, at levels way above what is happening to day-to-day spending, isn't going to make our position any more manageable. Rather it will make matters worse by forcing more people onto the dole queues and ensuring that those already there will remain so for the foreseeable future.

The focus of Colm McCarthy's displeasure, incidentally, related to one small element of the CIF's submission to the Government on its 'Jobs Strategy' -- the clue, Colm, is in the title. It would be strange not to set out a sector's prospective on job creation in the context of a Government initiative designed exclusively for the purpose of supporting jobs.

The CIF agrees with Colm McCarthy's analysis about the need to deal with the fiscal imbalance, sort out the banks and improve competitiveness. We also believe that the jobs haemorrhage must be stopped.

Against this backdrop, Colm McCarthy did not afford the CIF's policy position a fair or accurate hearing last week.

Tom Parlon,

Director General,

Construction Industry


Dublin 6

Sunday Independent