Ibec calls for more social spending

The country risks missing a once in a generation chance to renew national infrastructure and private sector finance must be harnessed to deliver vital public investment, the chief executive of business and employer group Ibec will tell its business leaders conference today.

In an address to the annual event, Danny McCoy will warn that failure to take more decisive steps to relieve pressure on transport, housing, education and health infrastructure risks creating serious long-term economic and social problems.

Mr McCoy will say: “We must not let the austerity mindset of the crisis dictate economic policy into the future. To benefit from the economic opportunities that now exist, we need to massively ramp up infrastructure spending. But the Government is not embracing this ambition.”

Mr McCoy will outline Ibec’s case for prioritising once off capital investment, saying prudent management of day-to-day expenditure would be the most effective way to protect the public finances from a future downturn. Private public partnerships should be strongly considered, he will add.

“Ireland remains at the very bottom of the EU league table for infrastructure spend yet we are in a global race for investment. Government will remain the primary funder of infrastructure projects, but there is a growing role for the private sector. It is vital that Government increases its ambition around PPPs and reviews the current unnecessary cap on their use,” he will say.

He is to criticise what he calls “a poor transport network, a jaded health infrastructure, an under supply of quality housing, and an education system at capacity”, saying they will not only hold the country back economically but will cause social problems for generations to come.

On the proposed National Planning Framework, Mr McCoy will say: “We must progress the Framework without delay to address the growing imbalance between Dublin and the rest of the country.

"We have an opportunity to address our economic and social challenges, but only if it is underpinned by an all-Ireland approach to planning and increased State investment across our regions.”

The conference at Dublin’s Convention Centre, which will be attended by President Michael D Higgins, will include discussions on geopolitical impacts on world business and Ireland.

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