Surveyors' 'manifesto' to boost Northern Ireland economy
A commission should be set up in order to lead investment in Northern Ireland's schools, hospitals and infrastructure so the province "can remain competitive and attractive investment", an industry body has said.
It's one of a series of proposals from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), which today is launching its manifesto ahead of the Assembly elections in May.
RICS has said that an independent body would help ensure billions of pounds worth of investment was made in the "best interests" of Northern Ireland's economy.
RICS chairman in Northern Ireland Andrew Tough said our infrastructure was "ageing and in need of significant upgrading so that the region can remain competitive and attractive to inward investment".
"Independently assessing Northern Ireland's infrastructure needs and making strategic decisions in the public interest about where investment should go would be a very positive step towards delivering best value for money and providing a boost to the private sector," he said.
The group has recommended a series of proposals.
They include introduction of water charges, a five-year regional development plan, city centre enterprise zones and the development of professional degree-level apprenticeships in partnership with professional bodies.
"We want Northern Ireland's political parties to fully recognise the role property, construction and infrastructure plays in driving economic growth and building better communities," Mr Tough said. "Our manifesto is intended to help the Northern Ireland Executive to create an enabling environment for investment, growth and private sector enterprise across the four key areas of land, property, construction and infrastructure."
RICS has said the recommendations put forward emerge from the views and insights of some of its 4,000 members across the province.
Other plans include a vacant rates relief for new-build and upgraded office buildings.