Delivery of world-class infrastructure vital to quality of life

March 03, 2021

Full submission and briefing deck available for download below.

Ibec, the group that represents Irish business, has said that Government must seize the opportunities of the unprecedented wealth-generating capacity of the Irish economy and deliver an ambitious programme of world class public services and infrastructure development.   

Following its submission to the mid-term review of the National Development Plan (NDP) (see attached), Ibec said that decades of chronic underinvestment in key infrastructure is threatening to undermine the prospects for economic recovery. Furthermore, such underinvestment has catalysed quality of life challenges in areas such as housing, environment, health, childcare, and commuting, each of which are determining factors in national competitiveness and prosperity.  

An ‘NDP Plus’ programme of investment is required to provide infrastructure to support better lives and better business. The revised plan cannot simply be a re-prioritisation of projects. New projects are required to support sustainable, inclusive, and resilient recovery and growth. Government should increase the national infrastructure budget by €70 billion over the revised Plan timeframe out to 2030.  

Ibec Director of Policy and Public Affairs, Fergal O’Brien said: “While the plan for economic recovery must address multiple evolving aspects of both the Covid and Brexit crises, the experience of the past year has shown that Ireland now has unprecedented wealth-generating capacity to ambitiously resource this plan. A substantially enhanced and more ambitious NDP must therefore be central to the recovery strategy.  

“The next ten years will see a transformation in the country. By 2030 there will be 1.1 million additional people on the island. We have also set ambitious targets to decarbonise society and the economy, implement the National Planning Framework to re-balance regional growth, and encourage major changes in how people live and work, over the coming years. Whilst the short-term focus may be on the challenges and changes brought about by Covid-19 and Brexit, we must plan for these less dramatic but equally important long-term challenges which litter our country’s path. We will not maximise the benefits of these significant changes without careful planning and significant investment.”  

Amongst the key asks of Ibec’s NDP submission are:  

Reimagine our cities, towns and regions: Provide the tools to help reimagine and revitalise our cities and towns and maximise the future of work and investment opportunities across our regions.
Put quality of life at the top of the policy agenda: The role and scale of the State will be greater than before in addressing quality of life challenges, and ultimately national competitiveness and prosperity.
Plan better to achieve increased ambition on climate change: The NDP must be climate-proofed, adhering to climate smart planning and investment principles.
Accelerate the delivery of the digital economy: The significance of critical digital infrastructure has therefore never been greater and is a priority area of further investment allocation from rapid delivery of the National Broadband Plan, 5G rollout, and investment in cyber security.
Support the experience economy: The NDP has a key role to play in providing increased investment for product, skills, and marketing development for the renewal of the experience economy which has borne the brunt of the Covid crisis.
Prioritise our health and care sectors: The crisis has shone a light on the implications for our economy and society of under-investment in our health, eldercare, and childcare sectors. The NDP must provide an ambitious investment package to address this.
Upskill and get people back to work: Provide increased levels of investment in all areas of upskilling, reskilling and labour market initiatives. This is also a critical opportunity to address the long-term underfunding of higher education which continues to pose a significant threat to national economic competitiveness.  
Strengthen innovation to address the competitiveness impacts of Brexit: Increase public investment in innovation by 70% to drive greater innovation intensity across the economy. This is the most effective policy response to the competitiveness challenges posed by Brexit and global tax reform.

Place greater emphasis on the Shared Island agenda and significantly increase the Shared Island fund to €5 billion: The period to 2030 will be a crucial one for the all-island economy and it is vital that ambitious investment is delivered to address a range of all island connectivity and investment challenges.  

Maximise non-Exchequer financing opportunities: Much more must be done to involve greater private sector involvement in investment both through Public Private Partnerships (PPP) and other mechanisms. Opportunities for EU and EIB investment must also be maximised. 
Accelerate project delivery timelines: Public procurement, project management and planning system reform is urgently needed in order to reduce overall project delivery times by 50%. In order for the investment plan to achieve its objectives and deliver a meaningful improvement to quality of life, radical reform is required to ensure that much needed infrastructure projects are delivered as quickly as possible.

Ibec - Investment Reboot - Infrastructure for Better Lives Better Business pdf | 969.9 kb Investment Reboot - Briefing Document pdf | 305.3 kb