02/11/2010

Builders 'Need Water Charges', Says RICS

A leading construction professional has reacted positively to this week's DUP policy document on dealing with Northern Ireland's financial crisis.

However, he also disagreed with the First Minister, Peter Robinson's opposition to water charges.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Northern Ireland Director, Ben Collin said that the construction of hospitals and schools - which would of course boost the building sector - could be stymied if water charges are not in fact introduced: "We welcome the document's emphasis on the need for cooperation around the (Stormont) Executive table, and on engaging positively with other parties to deliver a budget in the best interests of all the people of Northern Ireland," he said.

"However, it is disappointing that there is no commitment to the introduction of domestic water charging.
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"We realise that this is a politically sensitive issue, but continuing to defer domestic water charging will only have a detrimental impact on the ability to spend on crucial things like schools and hospitals.

"We think that the long-term interests of NI will therefore be best served by introducing domestic water charging as soon as possible," he said.

"With regard to the measures proposed, we think there is particular merit in switching funds from the resource budget to the capital budget, given the positive economic impact of capital spending and the pressing need to invest in Northern Ireland's infrastructure for long-term competitiveness.

However, the DUP Leader and First Minister Peter Robinson received support for not imposing water charges from his political rivals, Sinn Fein.

Their spokesperson Mitchel McLaughlin said: "It is welcome that the DUP have now published their proposals and I am sure the other parties will soon follow suit.

"As an initial observation on the DUP proposals I would welcome the commitment to continue to oppose water charges."

See: SF Welcomes DUP Economic Plan

(BMcC)

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