CEF comments on publication of NI Executive’s draft Investment Strategy

Commenting on the publication today of the NI Executive’s draft Investment Strategy, Construction Employers Federation Managing Director Mark Spence said:

“It is undoubted that Northern Ireland faces a multiplicity of challenges with respect to the next era of infrastructure funding, investment and delivery. From the repercussions of Brexit to the recovery from the Covid pandemic, to dealing with the effects of climate change to making sure we have the appropriate type of housing available for an ageing population, we will have to consider infrastructure in a way that we have not done before. That requires an ambitious Investment Strategy – but equally one that is politically and financially realistic. 

“The publication of this draft Strategy is therefore welcome as it seeks to identify solutions to many of these challenges – not least in proposing practical changes to the infrastructure pipeline over the coming 5-10 years so that the construction industry can have greater confidence in it. 

“However, as the draft Strategy itself recognises,  “the scale of investment required to maintain our existing infrastructure and provide for our future needs and ambitions will be significantly higher in real terms than the £1.2–£1.4 billion per annum typically invested over the past 10 years”.

“Therefore, the commitment by the Executive to publish by the end of the year its initial Infrastructure Investment Plan as well as its Medium-Term Infrastructure Finance Plan is to be welcomed. This must though go beyond what is currently proposed in the draft which, on the face of it and given the financial demands of our infrastructure deficit, will go nowhere near enough to meeting the identified need. 

“Bridging that gap can only be achieved by agreeing and delivering more fundamental structural reforms to areas such as the governance and financing arrangements of the Housing Executive and NI Water. Without these over the coming Assembly and Executive mandate, we will not be able to meet the laudable objectives in this draft Strategy”.