Michael Staines
Michael Staines

10.36 20 May 2020


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Cost for major capital projects like the National Children’s Hospital could shoot up again as a result of the new COVID-19 restrictions on building sites.

Thousands of construction workers returned to sites around the country this week as part of Phase One of the Roadmap for reopening the economy.

All businesses that are reopening have to follow strict Return to Work Safety Protocols and the Construction Industry Federation has warned that the rules could add up to 40% to the cost of major projects.

Children's Hospital

On The Pat Kenny Show this morning, the Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said it is still not clear what that means for projects like the Children’s Hospital.

“In terms of the impact on our tendering process and contracts that are already in place, we are going to have to look at his project by project,” he said.

“It is possible that some of the costs relating to some projects might be affected, but at his point we can’t be sure about it.”

He said officials will be carefully examining the safeguards that are in place to protect the State.

“One of the reasons our tendering process, at times, has taken a fair bit of time has been, we looked to put lots of safeguards in place to try and protect the Exchequer and the State from risk,” he said.

“All of us will now will be looking at those contracts across the coming period to see where we stand now with really important projects.”

Income supports

Meanwhile, Minister Donohoe said he would seek Dáil consent to extend the COVID-19 income supports past June.

Some 585,000 people are receiving the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP) this week at a cost of over €200m.

Meanwhile, there are now over 464,000 workers registered with Revenue for the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme (TWSS).

Minister Donohoe rejected claims the Department of Social Protection (DSP) would soon run out of the money to make the payments.

“The department will have the funding they need to meet their commitments we have with our citizens,” he said.

He said all departments need to get the consent of the Dáil to spend more than a certain amount each year, and the DSP would be the first to seek that consent next week.

“I would be very hopeful that we will be able to gain cooperation in the Oireachtas in order to see those estimates passed,” he said.

Roadmap

He said he would work with all parties to see the supports extended in line with the roadmap for reopening the economy.

“The estimate that we will be putting forward will allow the department to continue to meet income supports that they have to pay into June,” he said.

“We do then need to have a debate regarding the future of those income supports.

“One point I do accept and I do understand - and I have done this before - is that we had an end date for our income supports which was decided before the reopening plan for the economy was either agreed or communicated to our country.

“Clearly, I need to work within the Oireachtas and with my colleagues in Government now to see what is the best way to deal with that disparity at the moment.”


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