Now is the time to invest in infrastructure projects in Ireland, according to speakers at the PwC business leaders conference.
PwC lead partner Ger O’Mahoney and managing director of Augmentis Ireland, John Mullins, both agreed that now is the time to invest in infrastructure construction projects in Ireland as the sector remains behind the European average.
“The bottom line is we have 140,000 construction workers on social welfare, costing approximately €2.4bn a year,” said Mr Mullins. “I’m not suggesting that we egg-up the industry but it is only 6% of GDP, and the EU average is 10%, so we need to edge towards that.”
He suggested that, through a combination of the National Pension Reserve Fund and Nama, a method to stimulate building of targeted office space in prime locations could be made. He pointed out that the IDA is already complaining that there is a shortage suitable office space to attract foreign firms here.
Mr O’Mahoney said he has seen positive signs in the economy, with nearly 90% of firms that PwC surveyed reporting an increase in confidence. He said that one of the positive aspects that seems to have emerged from the crisis is a willingness of management and workers to pull together.
“We all know that we have to progress together. The idea of employees versus management has gone. People are working together now,” said Mr O’Mahoney.
While he admitted Cork may be lagging behind Dublin in the recovery, he said this was to be expected.
“Capitals will always recover faster,” said Mr O’Mahoney. “We need to focus on the strengths of Cork as a second city. We need to be famous for expert niches.”
Mr O’Mahony suggested that, following on the success of Cork in transforming itself from a heavy industry to a pharma capital, the time has come to pick the next wave of innovation to bet on.
He suggested that big data analytics might be the growth area that the region could invest in following on from the success of EMC.
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