A body representing companies which supply quarry products to the construction industry has hit out at the cuts to the capital budget revealed in the comprehensive spending review.
The Quarry Products Association Northern Ireland (QPANI) said the ability of quarrying and construction to support economic recovery had been curtailed by the review.
Regional director Gordon Best said: “We are extremely concerned about the impact of the CSR, for three reasons.
“First, the scale of cuts to public capital investment in Northern Ireland of some 40% announced in the CSR will significantly limit the contribution which construction and manufacturing can make to the economic recovery and will undoubtedly cost thousands of private sector jobs.
“We will not only lose some of our long established companies but we will lose a generation of skills as young people are forced to leave these islands to seek work elsewhere.
“Secondly, Government has |significantly increased business costs by the decision to turn the £1bn per annum carbon reduction commitment (CRC) energy efficiency scheme into yet another |environmental tax, having previously promised that the scheme would be revenue neutral.
“Thirdly, the CSR has failed to recognise the infrastructure deficit we have in Northern Ireland and in effect the Strategic Investment Plan has been ripped up and threw in the bin.”
He said that Government needed to work with industry to generate economic growth during tough times.
“In Northern Ireland we now need decisive political leadership which will help to boost confidence, real partnership between the political parties to agree a four-year budget for Northern Ireland that will give the beleaguered private sector certainty so that it can plan for the future.”
Mr Best also said private sector-drive construction projects such as wind farm developments should be fast tracked.
“The Executive must now look to raise additional funding over the next four years to ensure the current investment programme is maintained, through increasing charges, proceeding with asset sales and introducing alternative financing strategies.
“Overall the net result is an extremely disappointing CSR for our sector and for the economy as a whole.”