THE revised infrastructure investment plan has been slated for being too severe and failing to hold the innovation necessary to stimulate the economy.
Opposition parties said the cutbacks amount to a 45% drop on the scale of commitments in the existing national development plan. Also, the renewed priorities were not suitable for creating the maximum amount of jobs.
Fine Gael launched a volley of criticism on the plan. Enterprise spokesman Richard Bruton said that, based on ESRI estimates, the cutbacks will result in 140,000 fewer jobs being created by 2016.
FG environment spokesman Phil Hogan said the €750 million reduction in water services will create additional costs, as active leaks could lead to hefty fines from the European Commission.
“It was only months ago that it was revealed that parts of the country suffer a 50% leakage rate. Now, instead of plugging this, the Government has slashed funding without putting in place alternative funding mechanisms like a semi-state water utility company,” he said.
The party’s transport spokesman Simon Coveney said the Government had opted to crudely cut budgets rather than reform the way in which money was spent. He said semi-state companies should be drafted in to guide capital spending in their respective industries with a goal of delivering a financial return.
Health spokesman Dr James Reilly said the revised plan recognised the poor state of some of the country’s health infrastructure but still proposes to cut spending in the sector next year by €90m. He said the Government only pumped money into health services when elections loomed.
Labour Party transport spokesman Joe Costello said the review was a welcome acceptance of the economic reality.
However, he said the strategy outlined in the new plan would not stimulate the economy.
“Despite a commitment of nearly €40 billion over seven years, it will do little to lift confidence among investors or consumers that the Government has a strategy to create jobs or restore growth,” he said.
Sinn Féin’s Aengus O Snodaigh said the rhetoric focused on infrastructure, but a drop in capital spending will have a direct impact on frontline services.
“The reality is that critical services like healthcare will be obliterated, with callous cuts to the Health Service Executive’s budget for developing hospitals and other facilities,” he said.
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