Dublin, Friday, 10th January, 2014: The President of The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland has welcomed Minister Richard Bruton’s commitment to improve Ireland’s world rankings as a place in which to do business following the publication of the World Bank Doing Business 2014 Report which highlighted Ireland’s low rankings in respect of construction permits, contract enforcement and property registration. Ireland’s rating of 115th out of 189 countries for dealing with construction permits is by far Ireland’s worst in the Doing Business report, and significantly worsens Ireland’s overall ranking.
Commenting on the World Bank report, Robin Mandal, who has just assumed office as RIAI President said: “Ireland needs a construction permits system that balances the need for rigour with avoiding unnecessary delays that can lead to price increases for consumers and a delay in a much needed recovery in employment in the building sector.” Mr. Mandal added: “Ireland needs an additional 130,000 homes to come on stream in the short term to satisfy current housing needs and there is significant pent up demand in the market given the lack of transactions in the past six years. If we do not address the lack of efficiencies in planning and permits systems consumers will suffer with a more volatile property market, job creation will be stifled and tax revenues will suffer. These reports influence FDI decision makers in boardrooms across the world so could also impact on potential investment from overseas. This report and another World Bank Report Good Practices for Construction Regulation and Enforcement Reform will inform RIAI policy.”
“This poor rating mirrors RIAI concern about adequacy of the national building control system even after implementation of the Building Control (Amendment) Regulations 2013 (BCARs). Much work remains to be done so that the system will address both concerns of complexity, delay and cost of construction permits seen in the World Bank report, and also the urgent need to protect consumers from building control and construction failures.”
Mr Mandal noted that the World Bank says Ireland, with its overall world ranking of 15th, is a generally good place in which to do business. But the Bank’s concerns about construction, property and enforcing contracts echo the concerns of architects about strengthening and supplementing the BCARs in the coherent chain sought by Minister Bruton. “Progress is being made by the public and private stakeholders on several aspects of building control, which will leave us ready to meet some challenges by the March deadline for implementation, but not for others. One immediate concern will be to expedite projects on site efficiently and cost effectively after implementation of the BCARs to avoid cost overruns arising from the additional regulatory requirements, especially on public works projects,” Mr Mandal said.
“It is therefore good to see Minister Bruton proposing that his initiative with the Taoiseach will begin by identifying weaknesses, so as to develop a concerted approach across Government Departments”, Mr Mandal said. “As well as dealing with short-term problems, this could begin a more strategic move to rationalise gaps and overlaps which exist under laws and procedures relating to building control, planning, health & safety, and so on.”
Mr Mandal noted that the RIAI – as well as working with the Department of Environment on implementing BCARs – is already working on implementation of the Construction Contracts Act with the Department of Public Enterprise and Reform, along with other building professions and with the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, to deal with payment disputes under RIAI and Public Works forms of building contract. “These working relationships should improve our rankings in contract enforcement, another area in which we rank poorly. The RIAI is looking forward to working with Government and other stakeholders to achieve a concerted approach and offers its assistance to deal as Minister Bruton proposes with issues affecting business.”