Ibec calls for new National Infrastructure Fund to address capacity constraints

June 12, 2023

Ibec, the group that represents Irish business, has called for a significant part of rising budget surpluses to be used to capitalise a new National Infrastructure Fund. The Fund will help address the major social, economic and environmental infrastructure needs which Ireland has committed to meeting over the next decade.

Addressing the National Economic Dialogue in Dublin Castle today, Ibec CEO Danny McCoy said: "A failure to meet the pressing investment needs of the Irish economy over the coming years would represent a greater risk to future economic development and social cohesion than any potential future ‘rainy day’.

“Following extensive engagement with CEOs across the country in recent weeks, it is clear that business sentiment remains very buoyant, with the majority of firms in expansionary mode. Demand in the Irish economy will continue to grow strongly. A failure of domestic supply capacity and infrastructure to keep up is leading to significant congestion and constraints.

“This has led to systemic blockages in both access to physical assets like housing and to the ability of households to access services which are core to a progressive society. This congestion is now a material threat to both economic advancement, generational solidarity and social cohesion.

“To reflect growing commitments in areas such as net-zero decarbonisation, a more rapidly growing population than envisaged in the National Planning Framework, there is at least €30 billion over and above the current National Development Plan required between now and 2030. This should be funded through a new National Infrastructure Fund capitalised with a portion of current record tax revenues.

“This fund would guarantee public capital projects are protected during cyclical downturns, lessen the need for ‘catch-up’ spending, deliver improved value for money and give greater certainty to sectors which are downstream of infrastructure delivery, thus allowing organisations to build capacity and to retain skills in both the public and private sectors. Along with the deployment of the €1.5 billion surplus of employer contributions in the National Training Fund, we can develop the skills capacity to meet future infrastructure needs.

“We must also invest in the capacity of the State to deliver on these projects. Our regulatory, planning, and policymaking systems has not kept pace with the scale of private sector investment over recent years.”