On the 17th of July 2012, the Government announced its plans for an additional €2.25 billion investment in public infrastructure projects in Ireland. The most important contribution capital investment can now make is in providing the capacity for the economy to grow, which will in turn create employment.
As the Deputy will recall, the stimulus package included €1.4 billion to fund the proposed new Public Private Partnerships (PPP) programme and the delivery of this was the initial focus for my Department. This €1.4 billion investment is additional to the direct investment by the exchequer in infrastructure which will be some €3.4 billion in 2013.
Job creation is a critical priority for Government. Investment in the projects included in the Stimulus package is expected to generate significant numbers of jobs spread out across the country. Analysis of each sector indicates that the investment in the PPP Pipeline should generate around 13,000 direct jobs and many more indirect jobs. It will also create much needed social and economic infrastructure and aid economic recovery. In recent weeks, as a follow on to last year’s package, I announced an additional Exchequer investment of €150m to fund school building projects, local and regional road maintenance and retrofitting of Local Authority housing. These projects involve mostly smaller scale capital works which are known to be labour intensive. It is envisaged that this additional Exchequer investment can support in the region of 3,000 jobs over the period of the roll-out.
NDFA issued tenders for the schools bundles in May. The tender for the Primary Care Centres Bundle is expected to be issued in August followed by the Grangegorman tender in September. The NRA published the contract notice for the N25 New Ross Bypass in March. The return date for pre-qualification submissions was 19th June and the NRA has reported that five submissions were received. The NRA will now proceed with the evaluation of the pre-qualification submissions received. It is planned to announce the shortlisted consortia to proceed to the tender stage in July/August. The next road tender will issue in the coming months.
As part of the on-going monitoring of employment on current PPPs, the latest figures from the Schools Bundle 3 indicate 600 full time equivalent jobs engaged for the period to end May. We will also be monitoring the level of employment being created during the construction of the N11/Newlands Cross PPP which commenced in the past few weeks.
The preparatory work for the PPP projects is well underway in the various Departments and Agencies. At this early stage in the process, most of the employment impact has been in the technical and advisory areas.
The NDFA estimated that approximately 155 jobs have been created to date by technical, legal, and insurance advisors and design teams spread across all projects. Some projects such as the new DIT Grangegorman project have already seen significant employment impact where a team of 40 architects, engineers, quantity surveyors and other specialists are already in place. Similarly in relation to the schools and primary care centres, a number of technical advisors and design teams are in place.
Further appointments are pending and employment benefits will be evident as the projects progress through the tendering phase and construction gets underway. The indicative timetable for the projects suggests construction is expected to commence on the first roads project by the end of 2013 and on the accommodation projects by Q4 2014.
My Department together with the NDFA and the Sponsoring Authorities are also looking at how to maximise job creation as part of each tender competition that is in line with procurement regulations. With the NDFA, we are also examining ways to encourage SME participation by facilitating access to the programme and the NDFA is working with Enterprise Ireland to organise awareness raising events for SMEs, one of which was held last week.
The projects identified for delivery through the additional €150m Exchequer funding will begin to be rolled out over the summer. While this additional funding was only recently announced, I expect that it will have an immediate impact as most of the preparation work for the relevant projects is already well advanced.