Tuesday, 11 June 2019
National Development Plan: Motion [Private Members]
I am not going to criticise the way in which the plan was launched. Some of those who have levelled criticism at the Government with regard to how it was launched would have done exactly the same thing had they been in the Minister's position. That is the reality. I am not going to play politics in that regard. What I want to get into is the plan and what the motion calls for. What it calls for is not something at which any Government should turn up its nose. Nobody is asking for the plan to be completely stopped.
From my reading the Social Democrats' motion makes three reasonable requests. It wants the Government to identify which planned-for projects in the NDP will be delayed or cancelled as a result of lack of funding. That is a very reasonable request two years into the plan. The Minister for Finance has said those cost overruns will not impact on the national development plan and that it can cater for those cost overruns through revenue. If that is the case, it is the Minister's responsibility to show the House how he can achieve that.
The second request is for the Government to recognise that the declaration of a climate emergency by the House requires significant revision of the NPF and the NDP in order to deliver meaningful action on climate change. Again any reasonable person would recognise given where we are now on the back of the report of the climate action committee and the declaration of the climate emergency, it is prudent to revisit the NDP to ensure we can meet targets. The Minister has outlined some of the things the Government will do and the additional funding to be invested to ensure we can meet some of our targets. However, I do not see anything wrong with asking for a complete revision of the plan to ensure we can meet our targets and that we are energy efficient.
The final request is for the Government to urgently revise the NDP and the NPF to properly reflect the current spending on listed projects and the impact on the €116 billion overall budget. Again that is a very reasonable request. We accept this is an enormous capital programme going out to 2040. I understand why the NPF goes out to 2017. We need to give some direction to the construction sector. We need to ensure we can achieve all that. However, there is no harm in revising things. I do not know if there are built-in revision mechanisms between now and 2040. If there is not, I see nothing wrong with pausing and revising the plan to ensure we can achieve what the Government set out to achieve. That is a very reasonable request. For that reason we support the motion.