COVID-19 pandemic presents unique opportunity to restructure economy says BPFI

9 Feb , 2021  

The National Development Plan must focus on climate and sustainable related projects that will drive balanced rural development and growth across the regions, according to Banking & Payments Federation Ireland’s submission to the public consultation on reviewing the National Development Plan.

Outlining the key points made within the submission, Brian Hayes, Chief Executive, BPFI said: “The current pandemic has taken an enormous toll on society and our economy, but it also now presents us with a unique opportunity to restructure our economy, by way of reprioritising public capital investment projects in a more sustainable and greener way. The banking sector fully recognises its responsibility as the key capital intermediary, to help invest and grow the economy as we move forward.”

“The pandemic has brought sweeping changes in the way we work for most parts of the Irish economy and we must now look to capitalise on this.  By continuing the practice of working from home after the pandemic we can reduce housing demand in big cities and allow for a better-balanced regional distribution of housing demand. A more balanced regional development in tandem with better infrastructure investments, can lead to the creation of both working hubs and population expansion, which will help employment creation in the regions and lead to the revival of many businesses across Ireland, particularly SMEs in the service-based industries such as the hospitality sector that have been hit so hard during this pandemic.”

With significant funds available from the EU Recovery fun, the BPFI CEO also underscored the importance of unlocking these funds to create a win-win for a sustainable economy and well as regional development: “There will be significant funds available from the EU Recovery Fund which has a focus on green transition. Utilising these grants as well as loans can not only help deliver on the overall public capital investment objective of creating a low carbon and climate resilient economy but also on creating a more balanced rural development, increased employment and growth in key sectors across regions, with housing and transport needs also being addressed.”

BPFI’s submission on the review of the NDP calls for a number of actions to be prioritised including:

  • Faster delivery of strategic publicly owned sites developed for public housing purposes
  • Enhanced regional accessibility with sustainable mobility using public transport investment
  • Speedy delivery of the National broadband Plan
  • Priority investment in energy efficiency, including upgrades to homes
  • Enhanced capital investment in training programmes targeted for sectors where skill gaps exist but has potential for immediate job creation such as energy efficiency and construction.