Investment in infrastructure could help mitigate the risks of Brexit, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB).
Gavin McGuire, Director of FMB Northern Ireland, said, “The NI construction industry is at last enjoying consistent growth and we can’t let Brexit undo all of our hard work by zapping business confidence.
“Indeed, public investment in our sector has the potential to act as a bulwark against the possibility of a recession. With the new UK Prime Minister making positive noises about serious investment in infrastructure projects across the whole of the UK, this could help support a significant capital investment programme and chimes with both the national mood and what our industry has been crying out for.
The importance of the construction industry to the wider economy should not be understated. The construction industry accounts for around 10% of Northern Ireland’s total output and employs nearly one in 10 people. “Our members make a huge contribution to the Northern Irish economy and indeed the very fabric of our society,” said McGuire. “We are fortunate enough to have some incredibly talented and innovative construction SMEs in this country. This is evidenced by the fact that, during leaner economic times here, so many of our members were able to find work elsewhere, both in the rest of the UK and in Ireland.
“We’re looking forward to working with government to progress the key infrastructure projects identified in the Fresh Start Agreement, which will give some certainty to the construction industry and help companies plan ahead. There is an urgent need to now consider options for alternative funding models.”
Máirtín Ó Muilleoir MLA, Northern Ireland’s Finance Minister, said, “Since my appointment as Finance minister I have met with the Federation and other key players from the local Construction Group to discuss plans for Government investment in infrastructure projects. I want to praise the construction industry’s can-do efforts, and reassure the industry regarding the Executive’s commitment to delivering a number of flagship infrastructure projects identified in the Fresh Start Agreement. I have also started discussions with my officials to explore options for a stimulus package for the north.
“I recognise the difficulties faced by the industry and realise there are still challenges ahead but working with the construction sector can only help benefit the local economy.”