Alliance Infrastructure spokesperson Andrew Muir MLA has welcomed the establishment of a Ministerial Advisory Panel on Infrastructure, but said there needs to be a wider focus from the Executive on delivery on such projects.
Minister Nichola Mallon said the panel would help bring greener and more sustainable infrastructure but North Down MLA Mr Muir said an Infrastructure Commission to drive delivery of projects, a long-term campaign of his, is also vital.
“With millions of pounds handed back last year because government departments struggled to spend allocated amounts for delivery of infrastructure projects I welcome anything that seeks to address systemic issues, especially at this moment when Northern Ireland desperately needs investment to save jobs and build a better and more sustainable future,” he said.
“I hope this panel helps progress the case for a wider and much more powerful Infrastructure Commission charged with both developing and overseeing delivery of a strategic Northern Ireland-wide investment plan. With power to borrow up to £200 million for capital projects still not utilised this year and over £103 million of capital monies handed back in 2019/20, plus £72 million in financial transactions capital, we need a body with teeth able to drive delivery of projects across all government departments.
“Issues arising from the recent Audit Office report on major projects ought to act as a wake-up call for everyone in government aiming to tackle rising unemployment levels and ensure we have fit for purpose infrastructure to aid economic recovery and tackle climate emergency, which will remain with us long after COVID-19 eventually recedes.”