Just €5m would ensure massive progress towards Cork and Limerick finally being connected by a motorway, according to construction bosses.
At the Oireachtas budgetary oversight committee yesterday, a delegation from the Construction Industry Federation called for Ireland to press the EU for a relaxation of fiscal space constraints for infrastructure, as well as utilising the European Investment Bank for funding.
The body said investment in public infrastructure had to increase to 4% of GDP, and that the mid-term review of the capital infrastructure plan had to address depreciation and bottlenecks.
Vice president Pat Lucey said the Dublin Metro and Dart were absolute priority, while the long-mooted Cork to Limerick M20 could be kickstarted with a relatively minor investment of €5m, even though it has a €1bn pricetag.
He said: “If there was €5m allocated for Cork to Limerick, you would get an enormous amount of planning done.”
Moving through the planning stages now would mean much quicker construction when the rest of the funding required was finally available, he added.
CIF director general Tom Parlon said the €1bn for the M20 would be paid back through economic benefit within 18 months.
The organisation’s president Dominic Doheny said the budgetary oversight committee offered “the best hope we have in averting a national crisis”.
He added: “We’re here with a clear warning — the lack of investment in infrastructure today poses a clear threat to Ireland’s economic and social progress.
“We believe that this can be averted through some innovative thinking and flexibility on our behalf and that of the EU. But we must act quickly as the situation is now very stark.”
He pointed to figures that said Ireland is last in terms of the 28 EU nations in terms of GDP invested in infrastructure.
“Today, we are investing only 2% of GDP in productive infrastructure. The importance of infrastructure investment in stimulating economic growth is well-established globally... However, we are prevented by the EU’s fiscal constraints from increasing infrastructure investment. The Government must seek a relaxation in these rules to enable capital investment in productive infrastructure. There is a consensus from independent bodies across Ireland at EU and international level that Irish infrastructure is grossly inadequate,” he said.
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