FINANCE Minister Sammy Wilson yesterday re-iterated the Executive’s commitment to helping the construction industry back onto its feet.
Responding to the latest figures from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) published in the Northern Ireland Construction Bulletin, he said it was disappointing to note the further fall in the volume of construction at the end of 2012.
“I want to take this opportunity to reiterate the Executive’s total commitment to assisting, where possible, the construction industry in Northern Ireland, including the local Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) that are crucial for building our future,” he said.
“Collectively government is the largest client of the industry. The Executive has allocated over £100 million of public expenditure on structural maintenance alone during this financial year with a further boost following the January monitoring round for our roads infrastructure.
“I also announced this week £11.8m of funding for new housing schemes which is part of the UK Government’s ‘Get Britain Building’ initiative. This will provide a much needed boost to our local housing market and ultimately our construction sector.”
Amid continuing calls for action from industry groups such as the Construction Employers’ Federation (CEF), Mr Wilson also highlighted the the recent introduction of Project Bank Accounts which he said would significantly change the way government pays contractors and their subcontractors.
“This will accelerate their cash flow and give certainty on timing of payments benefitting subcontractors who are, in many cases, fundamental to the work on many construction projects,” he said.
“The Executive are acutely aware of the difficulties facing our local economy and the construction sector in particular. The £200m Economy and Jobs Initiative announced by the First and deputy First Minister is a significant amount of additional funding and will provide further much needed resources to help the construction sector over the remaining budget period.”