40% cut in infrastructure spending

BUDGET cuts north and south have resulted in all-island spending on infrastructure being reduced by 40%, noted a conference yesterday in Dublin jointly hosted by British and Irish employers bodies.

The IBEC-CBI Joint Business Council economy and public expenditure forum heard that the combined investment of British and Irish capital programmes will be reduced from pre-crisis levels of €11 billion per annum to just €6.5bn.

The council expressed its concern by the cuts and warned that the severe reductions would have a negative impact on businesses in both economies.

PwC Northern Ireland managing partner and JBC chairman, Hugh Crossey, said: “There are significant opportunities to utilise cross-border cooperation mechanisms to reduce waste, duplication and cut costs which will contribute to maintenance of core public services in the two jurisdictions. Both administrations should also focus on mobilising private sector finance.

“The implications of these 40% of cuts in terms of upgrading infrastructure and the productive capacity of the all-island economy are severe, particularly in the North where the infrastructure deficit is most in evidence.”

Conference attendees were given a detailed briefing on the recently published Comprehensive Spending Review for Northern Ireland, provided by the head of Britain’s Treasury, Nick Macpherson.

Mr Crossey said: “ In the context of the British Irish Council there is undoubted scope to bring forward an initiative where the administrations in both islands would engage with private sector specialists to mobilise of private finance.

“This could focus particularly on shared learning and on opportunities for engagement with the global investment community.”

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