The Construction Industry Federation has said the building industry needs an additional €15 billion over the next six years to overcome Covid-19's impact in the short-term and to solve the housing and climate change crises in the longer-term.
A CIF delegation met with Ministers Paschal Donohoe and Michael McGrath this week to identify critical infrastructure and housing projects that could underpin economic recovery in other sectors such as tourism and retail in the short term.
Research from EY estimates that every €1 billion invested in infrastructure, housing and other construction activity leads to €1.85 billion in additional GDP output.
It would also create 1,200 additional jobs, €140m in exchequer revenue and €680m circulating through the economy in terms of wages and profits.
The CIF said that with money available at very low interest rates, the Government can generate multiple economic and social benefits while the industry delivers essential housing, infrastructure and the specialist buildings.
That can make Ireland an attractive location for investment from the global pharmaceutical, technology, medical devices sectors.
It also warned that achieving the desired housing output of 35,000 a year will not be achieved within the lifetime of this Government without significant changes to the current delivery system.
Among the recommendations to alleviate the housing crisis, the CIF urged the Government to introduce a shared equity scheme, which along with the Help-to-Buy will enable the average couple to secure a mortgage and remove the ever-growing cohort of society locked out of the market and further adding pressure to the rental market.
It also recommends the extension of the Help-to Buy scheme until at least December 2025 to provide certainty to the market and enable the homebuyer to secure the deposits for new homes.
CIF Director General Tom Parlon said the Government has a unique opportunity to drive the country's recovery, solve the housing crisis, build climate change resilience and facilitate the Covid-19 response by increasing investment in infrastructure, housing, and other construction activity.
"The reality is that the construction industry is the economic sector best-placed to generate the economic activity to erode the debt from dealing with Covid-19 as we have proven we can operate at capacity within the Covid-19 context," Mr Parlon said.
He said the CIF will engage with Government to identify the key projects based on the immediate need for stimulus and sustainable and balanced regional development within the National Development Plan and Project Ireland 2040.
"Our members are reporting a slowdown in commencements in housing (-45% year on year) and infrastructure projects, particularly in the regions. Companies now need a strong, ambitious commitment to increasing investment to bolster the industry's confidence in a very challenging environment," Mr Parlon said.