The study by the Economic and Social Research Institute on the National Development Plan (NDP) ecommends significant cuts to the plan and says funding for hospitals, housing and water schemes should be reduced.
According to opposition parties, the mid-term review of the NDP is a damning indictment of the Fianna Fáil and Progressive Democrats Coalition.
The ESRI used terms like ‘poor cost control’, ‘over design’, ‘no economic analysis’, and ‘inability to deliver efficiently and on time’. Fine Gael finance spokesman Richard Bruton, however, said these were polite ways of putting it.
Mr Bruton said: “No one is in charge. No one is taking responsibility. Money is being wasted. The taxpayer is getting bad value for its money. The reason is a litany of blundering miscalculations, bungled planning and of botched delivery.” Labour finance spokeswoman Joan Burton said the report had to lead to rapid reforms in the management of the infrastructure programmes.
“The Government cannot be allowed to simply use the report as an excuse to cut funding on vital infrastructure, for to do so would be to undermine our future prosperity.
“The Minister for Finance, who is ultimately responsible politically, must therefore state as a matter of urgency how he intends to respond to the
ESRI report and what concrete reforms he means to bring in.” Describing the recommendation to cut spending on housing as deeply misguided, Sinn Féin said it would worsen the accommodation crisis. Sinn Féin environment spokesman Arthur Morgan said the ESRI was blaming spending on social housing for driving up prices due to shortage of supply and other constraints.
“I am disappointed that the ESRI would chose to point the finger at the spending on social and affordable housing as opposed to the raft of Government policies that have supported developers and speculator attempts to push up house prices,” he said.
“I would like to see the ESRI address the lack of action against developers and speculators hoarding land, the low level of capital gains tax, the gutting of Section V of the Planning and Development Act 2000, the removal of the first-time buyer’s grant and the fact that this State is giving tax incentives to speculative buyers of second homes,” he said.
argeting the health service implications of the ESRI study, Fine Gael health spokeswoman Olivia Mitchell said the ESRI’s recommendations on health would force two million more people into the public health system.
“The ESRI is arguing that 3,000 promised extra acute hospital beds are not necessary because at present 20% of beds in public hospitals are occupied by private patients. If this logic is adopted by the Minister for Health, the 45% of the population that pays for private health insurance will be denied access to a service they are paying for.
“The net result can only be that the overall capacity and the overall demand for beds will remain precisely the same.
“The difference, however, is that the public hospitals will be denied the vital additional funds they earn from private patients, and which help keep public beds open and available to non-insured patients.”