Builders urged to expand abroad

IRISH construction firms are being urged to refocus their efforts towards emerging markets of central and eastern Europe as more mature markets continue to slow down.

Research issued yesterday by PricewaterhouseCoopers, suggests a growing proportion of western-based construction firms are beginning to look to central and eastern Europe to diversify their opportunities.

“The scale of infrastructure investment needed in CEE and the steps taken by local government to enhance the attractiveness of these investments are key drivers attracting international interest in the region,” the report said.

It added that a local history of under-investment in public and social infrastructure in the region had resulted in an “infrastructure gap” meaning about €500 million in capital investment is needed to modernise the region’s infrastructure, particularly in the areas of water supply and transport.

“Whilst one must acknowledge some countries in the region do not score well on corruption indices, the emerging stability of Central and Eastern Europe and significant growth prospects cannot be overlooked,” said PwC tax director, Louise Caffrey.

Meanwhile, the Construction Industry Federation has said it is confident of having a good working relationship with new Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan.

After yesterday’s FIEC EU Construction Conference — hosted by the CIF — in Dublin, Mr Lenihan said Ireland’s building boom was coming to a “shuddering end” and that he was unfortunate to be the finance minister when the industry was slowing down.

A CIF spokesperson said this is the time for the Government to act with practical measures — such as accelerating elements of the National Development Plan — to maintain employment in the construction industry, levels of which are continuing to fall on a monthly basis.


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