Infrastructure planning is the key to enabling innovation and long-term growth, and should be divorced from the electoral cycle, Engineers Ireland president Bill Grimson told the Engineers Ireland annual conference in Kilkenny. He said that current planning in Ireland was inadequate and based on short-termism, with a new approach required to ensure the country had a platform that would sustain the recent economic recovery.
“We know that investing sensibly in infrastructure always gives a positive return on expenditure. However, at 2 per cent of GDP, we know that current and planned infrastructural spending is far too low and must be in the order of 4 per cent to meet our infrastructural needs,” he said.
“We also know that a long-term mindset, in the order of 20 years, is required to make this kind of commitment possible – and so well beyond the periods associated with our current electoral cycles. A single central infrastructure body or commission charged with prioritising and driving critical initiatives, as now exists in the UK for example, is essential. With national finances still over-stretched by a national debt of around 204 billion euros, wise investment should be the over-riding requirement and this is the framework required to facilitate that.”
The conference, titled ‘Engineering long term growth’, was also attended by President Michael Higgins who gave the opening address and highlighted how the knowledge, expertise and ingenuity of the engineer is deeply woven into society and into the daily lives of all Irish citizens.