Forfas report a “prescription for an ailing industry” – CIF

The CIF has welcomed the publication of the Forfás Construction Report, describing it as a “prescription for healing an ailing industry”.  Speaking following the publication of Ireland’s Construction Sector: Outlook and Strategic Plan to 2015, the CIF said that the Government must act on the recommendations made if they want to see the sector returning to growth and building towards a sustainable output.   

“We have been eagerly awaiting the publication of this report and we would like to congratulate Forfás for compiling a very thorough analysis of the construction industry, the problems it is experiencing and what can be done to get this sector operating at the level it should be,” said CIF Director General Tom Parlon.  “There are a range of practical solutions put forward in the report, which if implemented would immediately boost the sector and start creating jobs.

“This report is a prescription for healing an ailing industry but now measures need to be taken to help us reach healthier levels of activity.  The next step is for the Government to start implementing these recommendations.  We have waited long enough for action and as the Forfás report states, continued low levels of activity risk further erosion of the future growth of the Irish economy.

“There is a strong emphasis in this report on the importance of capital spending to the industry.  We are very much in favour of the Government implementing the various recommendations made in this plan as it would ensure one of the main sources of investment in construction activity would be better managed and provide a more steady flow of finance.  These measures would also create more opportunities for construction, creating thousands of jobs.

“Other steps that will need to be taken as detailed in this report include improving the public procurement processes.  The Government is due to undertake a review this year and it is important that review fully considers the points made by Forfás.

“We also noted the strong recommendations about reducing unnecessary regulatory burdens and costs which are being placed on the State and the industry.  Coupled with improvements to development levies and local authority charges, such measures could result in immediate impacts on construction activity on a regional basis.

“The need for a single point of contact within the structure of Government for the construction industry is another issue that the CIF has been keenly advocating.  The Forfás Report advocates the importance of engagement between the industry and Government so we hope clear steps will be taken to put in place a Construction Minister on the back of this document.

“Overall we are very pleased to see this detailed, well informed document published.  However these ideas will only be as strong as the Government’s will to have them implemented.  The Government now has clear guidance of what they can do to boost the construction sector and to create thousands of extra jobs.  Our hope is that they will begin to act on it immediately,” Mr. Parlon concluded.

Micheal O’Connor, President of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland said “the Forfas report represents an opportunity to restore confidence and competitiveness in an industry which is currently about half the size it should be for an economy the size of Ireland”.

“We now need to see some action on the implementation of these recommendations including the completion of the Public Capital Programme and the securing of alternative sources of finance to fund infrastructure and building projects to ensure that we can meet the needs of multinationals seeking to locate in Ireland in order to create more jobs”

The SCSI also said that the proposed introduction of a Construction Enterprise Clearing House (CECH) would promote greater transparency and collaboration between Government departments and industry representatives.

O’Connor also said that opportunities exist internationally for the skilled Irish construction workforce.

“In recent years, Irish specialist construction contractors have been very successful in designing and building manufacturing facilities, distribution networks and data centres for multinational pharmaceutical and technology companies and we welcome a focus on identifying opportunities to export these skill sets abroad.

“We would call on Government and other industry stakeholders to work together to ensure that these recommendations are implemented without delay” O’Connor concluded.