Lobbying in the Construction Industry (part 1)
by Bregs Blog admin team
A new report on lobbying in Ireland calls for a two-year “cooling-off” period for former ministers and special advisers. See Irish Times article “Report into lobbying recommends two-year cooling-off period“. A report into lobbying recommends two-year cooling-off period. Transparency International urges fines for officials who fail to comply with rulings. Extract:
“Transparency International will recommend that senior public officials should be required to receive permission from an independent oversight body before taking up a private sector position where a conflict of interest could be perceived.
…Penalties including fines and publication of the decision should be imposed on any former public official who fails to comply with the body’s ruling or to deliver information sought by it,” the report states.”
There has been widespread concern and criticism of the new building regulations SI9 introduced in march 2014. Seen as a paper exercise and ‘a political solution’, SI9 reinforces the current system of self-regulation in Ireland and creates a complicated ‘red-tape’ exercise in hands-off private regulation which is resulting in massive costs to consumer and industry. Billed by former minister Phil Hogan as a solution to widespread building failures, SI9 was introduced with little public or professional back-ups being in place, and no consumer input.
Following on from a public consultation in 2012 only a small circle of key stakeholders were invited to participate in the formation of SI9. No consumer groups were involved. The organisations invited to participate were representative bodies for architects, engineers and chartered surveyors (RIAI, ACEI and SCSI respectively) along with the Construction Industry Federation (CIF). Most of these bodies now have statutory roles and operate self-policing registers. The CIF register CIRI is due to be put on a statutory footing in March 2015.
TD Catherine Murphy has been scathing in her criticism of lobbing particularly in the Construction sector. In an article from the Irish Times from October 2014 she brought the spotlight on lobbying by vested interests in the construction industry. See article here.
“As a public representative at both local and national level, this is the second time I have experienced a crash in the construction sector. We are moving back into construction without having repaired the problems or addressed the issues involved. We are starting the process again. The Government just has a short time left in office and the important changes that should have been made before construction started again have not been made.
…This is a small country and we are all aware of the informal lobbying that takes place, whether in the Galway tent, on golf courses or wherever else“
See Dáil Debate here.
Many consumers perceive that the government has conveyed vested interest groups with a monopoly on various statutory roles within the construction process. This is most visible in the self-build sector, where owner/ builders legally are unable to build their own houses without the involvement of a contractor, preferably a CIRI registered one. This has resulted in vast cost increases, particularly for housing (see links below) and a significant fall-off in new self-built homes being undertaken this year.
With Local Authorities already chronically under-resourced, with no additional training or staff allocated to operating the new system, problems such as rogue or cowboy builder/ developers and serious materials issues such as pyrite are set to remain with us for some time.
All these representative bodies are now set for a windfall in income as a result. In order to operate as a registered professional under the new SI9 one must be on a register, and a hefty registration fee must be paid annually to these representative/policing organisations. With 60,000 operatives involved in various roles in the construction sector annual registration fees represent a bonanza for these key stakeholder bodies.
A significant reason for all these organisations to be supportive of SI.9. Even though most agree that the regulations bring little or no additional consumer protections to owners.
Other posts of interest: