Belfast Telegraph

Wilson's warning over impending cuts provokes criticism from RICS

Comments from Finance Minister Sammy Wilson at construction site visits this week have met with criticism from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.

Finance Minister Sammy Wilson surveyed progress on two of the Executive's major capital investment projects on Thursday.

The restoration project at Cultra Manor in North Down and the construction of the new Belfast Metropolitan College in the Titanic Quarter represent an investment of over £45m by the Executive.

The minister spoke of the difficult times that lie ahead for Northern Ireland.

"We must be under no illusion that Northern Ireland will be in any way exempt from the Budget cuts coming," the finance minister warned.

"It is not only public bodies that need to plan budgets for the future; the private sector, including the local construction industry, needs certainty on future spending plans as soon as possible."

But RICS Northern Ireland construction spokesman, Jim Sammon, said that it is crucial that the Executive gives a hand-up rather than a hand-out to help private sector investment.

"If Northern Ireland is to compete in the modern world, then we need to be equipped with modern infrastructure," he said.

"The Executive and the Strategic Investment Board works closely with the construction industry in developing the new investment strategy. Once the Comprehensive Spending Review has taken place next month, transparency in the planned release of capital projects will be key," said Mr Sammon.