Engineers Ireland urges Government to use capital spend as an economic stimulus for a ‘no deal’ Brex

Engineers Ireland urges Government to use capital spend as an economic stimulus for a ‘no deal’ Brexit

25 July 2019 at 09:32

Engineers Ireland urges Government to use capital spend as an economic stimulus for a ‘no deal’ Brexit

Organisation repeats its call for a single infrastructure authority to manage planning, procurement and delivery of large-scale projects

Implementing Project Ireland 2040 commitments, including a promise of €700 million extra in capital investment for 2020, establishing a single infrastructure authority to achieve value-for-money and building safe and sustainable homes are priority recommendations made by Engineers Ireland in its Pre-Budget 2020 submission to Government, issued today to the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform.

The representative body for engineers, whose 25,000 strong membership represents the full spectrum of the engineering profession, has urged the Government to increase infrastructure investment by its planned €700 million next year, regardless of the outcome of Brexit, to overcome challenges in housing, climate action and digitalisation.  The organisation has also repeated its call for a single infrastructure authority to manage the “planning, procurement and delivery of large-scale projects and explore innovative financing,” according to its Director General, Caroline Spillane.

Ms Spillane said the organisation is generally supportive of the Government’s budgetary approach, “which appears to use an informed and strategic method to overcome current major challenges faced by our economy.” However, she said Engineers Ireland would encourage Government to build on “the progress made in Budget 2019 and to base their investment decisions on Project Ireland 2040 principles and objectives and to deliver sustained increases in public capital development.” 

Commenting on the organisation’s Pre-Budget Submission, Ms Spillane said: “Earlier this year, our survey of 1,700 professional engineers found that just 18% believe Ireland’s overall infrastructure is in good condition with capacity for future development. Our housing system in particular was highlighted as key area for concern, unable to meet demand and requiring immediate investment to further adverse impact on the national economy.  As an absolute priority, Budget 2020 must include the promised €700 million increase in capital expenditure to €8.1 billion as committed to in Project Ireland 2040. It is essential that this increase takes place regardless of the outcome of Brexit. In fact, in the event of a ‘no-deal Brexit’ capital investment will help to stimulate the economy."

Also commenting today on Engineers Ireland’s recommendations, Marguerite Sayers, President of Engineers Ireland noted that the Government’s own Brexit Contingency Action Plan Update (July 2019), recognising the social and economic risk posed by Brexit “calls for economic responses to include ‘continued increased capital investment in accordance with Project Ireland 2040 which will act as a stimulus to the economy'.

“Investment decisions must be driven by evidenced-based solutions to societal challenges and Engineers Ireland is committed to bringing the expertise of the engineering profession to the budgetary process,” she added.

Ms Sayers also highlighted Engineers Ireland’s support for the recently-published Climate Action Plan: “Budget 2020 is Government’s opportunity to truly activate this plan for a cleaner, safer and sustainable future. In the Budget, we want to see progress on financial and political enablers for areas such as renewable energy and housing retrofits.”

Engineers Ireland’s top five priorities for Budget 2020 are:

  1.  Implement Project Ireland 2040 investment commitments, including the promised €700 million increase in exchequer capital expenditure next year bringing the expenditure to €8.1 billion as committed to in Project Ireland 2040.
  2. Achieve value-for-money in capital spending through reform of infrastructure policy, planning and delivery – including the establishment of a single infrastructure authority.
  3. Take urgent climate action by progressing critical enablers for renewable energy, electric vehicle adoption and retrofitting.
  4. Build safe and sustainable homes, retrofit the existing housing stock and support productivity and innovation in construction.
  5. Prepare now for the future of work, life and learning by investing in education, re-skilling and R&D.

The recommendations are based on consultations with the organisation’s engineering membership and on two reports recently published by the organisation: The State of Ireland 2019: A review of housing and infrastructure in Ireland and Engineering 2019: A barometer of the profession in Ireland. These evidence-based publications contain detailed information on future-proofing Ireland’s built environment and the engineering skills and supports required for delivery. 

In concluding, Caroline Spillane Director General said: “Reform in the area of infrastructure policy, planning and delivery would help to achieve integrated outcomes and value-for-money. We are also repeating our call for a single infrastructure authority to manage the planning, procurement and delivery of large-scale projects and explore innovative financing. Engineers Ireland will be discussing the details of our Budget 2020 proposals with Ministers, TDs, Senators, and other policy makers in the coming weeks and months.”

Click here to read Engineers Ireland’s Pre-Budget 2020 submission in detail.

References

Read The State of Ireland 2019 report here: http://engineersireland.ie/EngineersIreland/media/SiteMedia/communications/publications/State-of-Ireland-2019_3.pdf

Read Engineering 2019 here: http://engineersireland.ie/EngineersIreland/media/SiteMedia/communications/publications/Engineering-2019-report.pdf

*Read the Government’s Brexit Contingency Action Plan July 2019 update (Pg 19). https://www.dfa.ie/media/dfa/eu/brexit/keydocuments/Contingency-Action-Plan-Update.-July-2019.pdf

The Government’s Summer Economic Statement is here: https://assets.gov.ie/10498/79569b9ea87b4be5bd077bb622c2d1ff.pdf