Sinn Féin spokesperson on Public Expenditure & Reform, Mairéad Farrell TD, warned that the revised National Development Plan (NDP) was something a rehash of the previous one, except that a number of projects that were previously outlined now have significant question marks hanging over them.
Teachta Farrell said:
“The new NDP is somewhat hard to distinguish from the old one. Yes, there are the increased departmental capital ceilings, arising from the increase in the total amount of funding that will come from the exchequer, but there is a distinct lack of details on costs, timelines and completion dates for the projects outlined therein.
“What’s more, whereas under the old NDP a number of the projects that had estimated completion dates, for example the Metrolink and DART+, now there are no longer dates for which they are expected to be completed by.
“This now casts serious doubt on whether they will go ahead. Other projects like the Western Rail Corridor, the Navan Rail Line are mentioned in passing, but again without firm commitments, costs or completion dates.
“There is also significant doubt about 30 so road projects which are stated to be subject to approval. For example, one Green party Minister told us that the M20 (Cork-Limerick) motorway no decision has been made, and many of the other projects are ‘unjustifiable’.
“It’s clear that the contradictory statements we have been hearing from government Ministers today in relation to this demonstrate the chaotic infighting which obviously took place within the coalition.
“On housing the scale of ambition is not matched by the rhetoric we constantly hear from the government benches. Capital investment in direct build of social and affordable for 2021 was €1.4 billion, and it would appear that €350-400 mill more will be made available for budget 2022. This is far short of the doubling of capital investment as called for by ourselves and others like the ESRI. And represents a third of the allocation that we will be making in our alternative budget submission. In terms of social housing targets this new NDP provides 1,000 social houses less per year than in the previous one. So it appears they’re scaling back their limited ambition.
“In terms of health, there’s not much new. I obviously welcome the increase in spending, which is mainly as a result of holding on to some of the increased funding due to the pandemic. I also welcome the investment in E-Health, which was something I called for myself in party’s submission to the National Recovery and Resilience Fund. This now needs to go towards targeting the areas of waiting lists and referrals.
“The revised NDP has at best been a bit of a damp squib, and at worst something of a retrograde step. We can see that there appears to be backsliding on a significant number of projects which now appear to be in real doubt.”