Failure to invest in infrastructure 'will hinder corporation tax plan'

Northern Ireland needs more investment in infrastructure and house building, it has been argued

PLANS to lower the rate of corporation tax in Northern Ireland will be undermined without sufficient investment in infrastructure and new housing.

That is according to a group of influential organisations from across the built environment sector.

The groups, which include The RICS, ICE, RSUA, RTPI, and ACE are urging political parties to commit to policies "that will ensure Northern Ireland remains competitive and attractive to inward investment".

That includes upgrading water and sewage infrastructure and enhancing regeneration powers.

Ben Collins, Northern Ireland director of RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) said infrastructure and housing were "crucial areas for the Northern Ireland economy".

"Without adequate, affordable housing and modern, functioning infrastructure, the ability to attract inward investment will be severely hampered," he said.

"Northern Ireland's infrastructure is aging and in need of significant upgrading. To enable the necessary investment to happen, we are calling for, amongst other things, an introduction of domestic water charging and case-specific use of Public Private Partnerships.

"We are also calling for the establishment of an independent infrastructure commission to give strategic direction regarding the delivery of major infrastructure projects across Northern Ireland.”

The groups said a failure to invest would lessen the effects of a lower corporation tax.

The levy is due to reduce to 12.5 per cent - in line with the tax in the Republic - from April 2018.

Richard Kirk, ICE (Institution of Civil Engineers) director for Northern Ireland said making infrastructure a priority would "make Northern Ireland a better place to live, work and do business".

Ciarán Fox, director of the Royal Society of Ulster Architects (RSUA) meanwhile the quality of infrastructure "has a major impact on our health, our happiness and our economic development".

"What we build now will be with us for the next 20, 40 or maybe even 100 years so it is vitally important that we invest accordingly and get it right. However, in any year, new buildings only account for a small fraction of our total built environment so we must not lose focus on enhancing our existing stock," he said.

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