The government is currently developing a National Planning Framework that is designed to inform the development of the country's infrastructure and to plan for population increases over the next two decades.

It should be concluded in advance of the budget in October.

The business and employers' group, Ibec - in its submission - is calling on the Government to double its spend on infrastructure as part of the strategy.

Fergal O'Brien, Ibec's Director of Policy and Public Affairs, said, as a country, we are currently not investing enough in the capital infrastructure stock.

"The level of investment is half of where it should be. We are the lowest and weakest investor in public capital infrastructure in the EU.

"We already have the fastest growing population and we will continue to do so for the coming decades as the population of the island approaches 10 million by the middle of the decade," he pointed out.

Mr O'Brien said it was necessary that we continue to challenge the EU fiscal rules governing our debt and deficits which, he said, do not incentivise the right kind of spending.

However, in addition, he said the Government had to stop imposing additional constraints.

"We want to put the other hand behind our back in terms of domestic choices around fiscal policy. The Government says the EU target of 60% debt-to-GDP is not enough so they want to get it down to 45%.

"We also have an arbitrary cap on the amount of private money we can put into infrastructure through public private partnerships (PPPs). They could be own goals in terms of our aspirations to build a world-class Ireland," he explained.

He also said debt reduction must be proportionate to the size of the economy.

"The economy is growing so rapidly, that we're putting 1,000 people back to work every week. That's creating demand for infrastructure.

"If we're really ambitious in how we plan for the economy, we can bring the debt down, have sustainable finances, but we won't have to pay for it in terms of sub-optimum infrastructure, which we will do if we just go for aggressive debt reduction," he concluded.


March saw the second highest monthly rate of business startups since 2007, according to figures from the business and credit risk analysts, Vision-net.

A total of 2,014 companies were registered in the month with the areas of construction, agriculture, and finance showing the biggest increases.

However, other figures from Vision-net point to an increase in the number of insolvencies in the first three months of this year.

306 Irish companies posted insolvency notices between January and end-March; that was an increase of around 20% on the first quarter of 2016.

There was a fall in insolvencies in the areas of finance, manufacturing and construction.


And that positive trend in the building sector is reflected in the latest construction industry health check from Ulster Bank.

The monthly purchasing managers' index captured healthy expansion in March amid reports of improving client demand.

That saw the overall index rise at its fastest pace in five months.

There was a very sharp acceleration in commercial activity,  that is offices and retail outlets, for example.

Housing activity continues to expand at a fairly rapid clip, however, the pace of growth there eased slightly in March.