Minister Brian Hayes announces next phase of infrastructure investment package

Minister of State Brian Hayes provided an expert audience in Dublin’s National Convention Centre with details of the Government’s next phase in delivering its €2.25bn stimulus package.

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This May’s launch of the first package of Projects demonstrates the Government’s commitment to ensure that the new Public-Private Partnership Programme will deliver labour intensive capital projects in the areas of schools, transport and primary care centres. Minister Hayes noted this as reflecting the need for investment to be “focussed on the essential over the desirable. There are no trophy projects or complex engineering schemes.”

Responsive and sustainable investment is central to the next phase’s provision of 5,700 school places across the country. Similarly, and in partnership with the European Investment Bank, bringing together over 22,000 DIT students from 39 sites on one Campus aims to develop a national hub for research and enterprise. In addition to this national role, the Campus development will significantly contribute to the regeneration of the surrounding inner city quarter, and will provide a Business Support Programme targeting small local businesses.

Speaking to the gathered audience Minister Hayes’ stressed the need to channel Government spending to areas of greatest need. Of the 13,000 jobs foreseen to be generated by the stimulus package, he referred to the need of a ‘social clause’ to ensure “as many of these jobs as possible are new jobs with people being taken off the live register to take up these jobs. I am looking at how we can do this in line with procurement rules and I aim to have this in place before the first tenders issue.”

The aim of today’s seminar is to provide interested parties with the certainty that a coherent package of projects will be rolled over the coming years. It also served to reassure contractors, and SME contractors in particular, that their concerns have been listened to and will be designed into the procurement process.

Responding to such concerns aims to encourage better engagement from the market and reduce time and cost constraints associated with the procurement process. This includes introducing a scheme to reimburse bid costs for shortlisted tenders, reducing the procurement process timeframe by 6 months, organising planning permission in advance of tender awards, and addressing difficulties faced by contractors obtaining bonds at the levels sought in some public works tenders. Details of these initiatives will be announced shortly.

Acknowledging the challenge of sourcing and accessing funding in difficult economic circumstances, Minister Hayes expressed confidence that “we will be able to put the correct funding structure in place to ensure delivery of these important projects.”