SDLP MLA for Mid Ulster, Patsy McGlone, has welcomed the commitment given by NI Executive ministers to work collectively in support of the local construction industry.
Mr McGlone, who chairs the Assembly’s All Party Group on Construction, was speaking after MLAs from the group met with Executive ministers and construction industry representatives.
The meeting in the Senate Room of Parliament Buildings was called against a backdrop of continuing decline in the local construction industry and cuts in the public sector capital spend. It has now been agreed that similar meetings between the All Party Group on Construction and Executive ministers will take place every 3 to 4 months to progress matters that were highlighted at the meeting.
Mr McGlone said, “Today’s meeting marks an important step in establishing a real partnership between Ministers, MLAs and the wider construction industry to work collectively to identify solutions that will increase infrastructure funding to protect jobs and lay the foundations for economic growth. All members of the All Party Group welcome the Ministers commitment to work with us on solutions that will increase the speed that construction work gets out to the market, improve the opportunities for our young people, increase opportunities for local companies and build a world class infrastructure that will improve the quality of life for everyone in our Community”.
Jim Crooks, Chairman of the Construction Industry Group, commented, “ We made it clear from the outset that the industry was coming to today’s meeting in a positive frame of mind and offering solutions to what are real problems that impact on real peoples lives across all of Northern Ireland. We are delighted that our Executive Ministers present reciprocated by offering their commitment to work with us to identify quick and meaningful solutions to the challenges facing the local construction industry”.
The Construction Industry has identified 16 Programme for Government Commitments that they can assist the Executive in delivering. CIG representatives also highlighted a number of actions the Executive can take to revitalise the local construction industry. These are:
1. Consider our recommendations and bring forward proposals to leverage more innovative funding methods.
2. Ensure that each individual Department commits to populating the Investment Strategy on line information portal with accurate and up to date information.
3. Commit to go to the Treasury to seek more powers to borrow additional infrastructure funding.
4. Commit to an independent review, similar to that carried out in Scotland and the Irish Republic, aimed at identifying current resources which might be transferred to capital funding.
5. Commit to designing local construction contracts in a way that helps Northern Ireland companies compete effectively.