THE GOVERNMENT has this afternoon announced details of an ambitious €2.25 billion economic stimulus package hoping to create up to 13,000 jobs in the construction sector and give a boost to the economy.
The measures, approved by Cabinet this morning, include the approval of a new bespoke campus for Dublin Institute of Technology at Grangegorman – to begin enabling works next year, with construction underway in 2016 – as well as a programme of road constructions and education investment.
The two-phase programme will be funded from a variety of sources including the National Pension Reserve Fund, investment from the European Investment Bank, public private partnerships, a “substantial proportion” of the proceeds from the sale of state assets, and the auctioning of the next National Lottery licence.
In what the government will hope is a significant step on the path to economic independence, none of the measures in the new package of proposals are to be funded by cash from the EU-IMF bailout arrangement.
The first phase, comprising of €1.4 billion, will be channelled into projects which “meet key infrastructural needs”, including a €280 million programme of school-building in two ‘bundles’ across the country over the next six years.
Over half of that investment, €850 million, will be invested in the motorway network including upgrades to the M11 including a bypass at Enniscorthy, as well as 57km of works on the N17 and N18 to bypass Clarinbridge, Claregalway and Tuam to begin within two years.
A further 12km orbital route around Galway, bypassing the city – akin to the M50 project around Dublin – is also planned, but is currently stalled due to legal proceedings.
€190 million will be invested in a new State Pathology laboratory, divisional Garda headquarters and new courthouses in Cork, Waterford and Mullingar, while in the health sector, up to 20 new primary care centres will be built at a cost of €115 million.
Public projects with private investment
A large number of the plans, predominantly those in transport, are earmarked for the Public-Private Partnership model, meaning private investment will also be sought to help the construction costs.
This model means, however, that the government will spread the cost of building each project over the lifetime of each asset – with Brendan Howlin saying the measures announced today were likely to reach a peak annual cost of about €140 million.
Other stalled infrastructure projects such as the DART Underground and Metro North projects do not feature in the latest plans.
Enda Kenny this afternoon stressed that the projects in the latest package did not overlap with those of the earlier €17 billion capital programme, and that today’s measures were all new announcements.
The Taoiseach said this was largely due to developments at EU level regarding the European Investment Bank and the proceeds from the sale of state assets.
Kenny warned that the programme would not be a catch-all solution to resolving the jobs crisis, however, saying fiscal discipline and strategies to revive the domestic economy were also needed to bring about a sustainable recovery.
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore said the aim of the programme was “to boost activity in the domestic economy while also improving Ireland’s infrastructure”, adding that job creation was Ireland’s key objective and formed the focus of today’s plan.