Time for reform of how major capital projects are delivered, says Muir

It is time for reform of how major capital projects are delivered in Northern Ireland, Alliance Infrastructure spokesperson Andrew Muir MLA has said, after the publication of the Assembly Public Accounts Committee’s report into the issue.

The PAC report follows a review by the Audit Office in December, which found £700 million of overspend and significant delays across 11 major capital projects over the last 10 years. The PAC report contains 15 recommendations, including a more prominent role for the Head of the Civil Service and Permanent Secretaries in infrastructure delivery, and a recommendation to establish an independent advisory body for infrastructure.

“The PAC report leaves no doubt as to what needs to be done to address the endemic problems of delivering major infrastructure projects in Northern Ireland,” said Mr Muir.

“It is essential all of the recommendations are implemented by the Executive and the report is not simply left to gather dust. For far too long Northern Ireland has lagged behind other regions in the delivery of high quality infrastructure, and last year alone we handed back £150 million to the UK Treasury that could have been spent on infrastructure.

“This report highlights the need for an independent Infrastructure Commission for Northern Ireland to set the strategy and monitor the delivery of medium-long term infrastructure investment. The report also identifies the need to reform our planning system, something I have consistently pushed for in my role on the Assembly’s Infrastructure Committee.

“If the PAC recommendations are put in place, Northern Ireland could invest strategically to enable a green recovery following the impact of COVID-19.  Alliance continues to call on the Finance Minister to utilise existing borrowing powers, as now is the time for Northern Ireland to borrow to fund investment in our infrastructure. Strategic investment in infrastructure has a multiplier effect on economic growth and could help secure the high-quality jobs we need in order to build back better.”