Chartered surveyors call for private finance in infrastructure investments
Private finance can play a key role in overhauling Northern Ireland's ageing roads and railways, chartered surveyors said.
The amount of public sector construction outside housing fell significantly from April to June. Wider development increased because of house building, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics).
Spokesman Jim Sammon said public private partnerships represented a viable solution to the lack of investment which was leaving too many old schools and hospitals in place.
"Government also has an important role to play in creating the right conditions for private sector investment."
He added: "The PPP model has been increasingly advocated in response to the infrastructure investment challenge since the global financial crisis."
Northern Ireland's construction sector saw a pick-up in activity in the second quarter of the year but still lags other UK regions, according to the latest RICS and Tughans construction market survey.
House building drove the overall increase in workloads, with Northern Ireland surveyors reporting big rises in private and public house building in the quarter. There was also a rise reported in private industrial and commercial activity.
Surveyors said infrastructure and public non-housing activity fell significantly from April to June period, compared to the previous three months, with Northern Ireland the only part of the UK in decline.
Mr Sammon added: "Investing in infrastructure is a crucial part of rebalancing and growing the economy.
"We need better roads and railways, schools, hospitals, and energy infrastructure to meet our sustainable energy needs.
"A lot of our existing infrastructure is aging and in need of replacement, and we would strongly encourage the policy makers to take a strategic view in relation to where best public money should be spent to make the most positive impact for the economy and society."
Michael McCord, construction partner at Tughans Solicitors, said the total volume of construction output in Northern Ireland increased in the first quarter of the year, and the survey indicates that the sector's recovery continued into the second quarter.
"However, there is no doubt that local construction businesses remain very dependent on the Great Britain market for work, and that activity within Northern Ireland itself continues to lag other parts of the UK."