08 April 2006        

Spend in BMW Region lags woefully behind

The Council for the West has called on all Oireachtas members from the region to take strenuous steps to ensure that Government commitments to the Border, Midlands and West Region under the current National Development Plan are met.

Figures supplied by the Government show that commitments under the NDP are lagging well behind what was promised.

The Council has written to all Oireachtas members pointing to growing concern that the commitments will be missed by a wide margin, with long lasting consequences for the region in terms of infrastructure, jobs, broadband, etc.

 In October 2005 Finance Minister Brian Cowan admitted in the Dail that the shortfall for the BMW region between January 2000 and the end of June 2005 was a staggering 3.65 billion euro. He was replying to a question raised by Deputy Beverely Flynn. 

Council for the West Chairman Sean Hannick says he has no reason to believe the position has improved dramatically in the interim.

To compound matters, the Minister for Transport, in reply to a Dail question on March 29, 2006, revealed that spend on National Roads in the Border, Midlands and Western (BMW) Region is almost 500 million euro behind expenditure committed under the NDP.

Said Mr Hannick: "These are enormous sums of money unspent in the region of greatest need and it is crucial that Oireachtas members endeavour to do all in their power to ensure that the commitments entered into are delivered under the current NDP”.

"This is a challenge of the utmost importance for our Oireachtas members. So much work remains to be done in the region and projects are ready to be moved along, so why isn't the money that has been committed being spent," he asked.

He pointed to roads in the region which needed to be upgraded, the deplorable lack of a decent broadband service for communities, the inadequacy of the national electricity grid to meet industrial needs, and many other objectives.

"The NDP was meant to close the gap between East and West but if the money allocated to the BMW region is not spent within the time frame then it is obvious that the gap can only widen. And if that is happening at a time of economic growth, then surely the consequences for the Region must be questioned," added Mr Hannick.

He praised the developments which had taken place, and thanked Oireachtas members for their commitment to the Region. "However, with time running out under the current NDP we must all endeavour to ensure that targets laid down as essential are met in full and on schedule," he said.