That old but well known saying “you never know what’s around the next corner” is probably the best comment to begin this message; no one could ever have imagined the impact that the COVID-19 emergency was going to have.
The shudders it has already sent through families, communities, businesses and supply chains at such speed and with such profound consequences serves to remind us that our interdependent and interconnected world, for all its strengths, remains susceptible to the unexpected and none of us can ever ‘assume supply’.
This has underpinned our message to our local Government and key stakeholders for many years and we intend to push it even harder now and when this emergency is finally over. MPANI will continue to raise awareness of the features and benefits of essential and local mineral products and the contribution they make to the economy and our quality of life.
Indeed, the consequences of more extreme weather linked to climate change only emphasise the need for increased investment in coastal and river valley protection to reduce the impact on local communities.
During recent weeks MPANI has been working closely with our colleagues in other business organisations, with MPA nationally and with a number of Departments that our members supply materials and contracting services to, to ensure that essential supply chains are operating effectively. Through these difficult times the MPAs top priority has been and remains securing and delivering a ‘cash bridge’ solution to protect businesses and jobs.
The Chancellor’s package of measures in March, including the “Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme”, has been welcomed by businesses in Northern Ireland and across the UK.
These are unprecedented and uncertain times and each day is bringing more news, increased uncertainty and making it increasingly difficult to operate business as usual.
MPANI has been updating members on a daily basis and we have now a dedicated section on our website devoted to keeping the industry informed and with your permission we will continue to share good information as we receive it.
We continue to seek clear, concise and useful advice from the NI Executive and the UK Government to help you navigate your way through this period. We have also been engaging with accreditation and awarding bodies to ensure that members and employees are not inconvenienced due to the impact of COVID-19 particularly in cases where training, assessments and audits deadlines run out during this period of unprecedented difficulty and challenge.
This message, as I am sure you will understand, is somewhat shorter than previous ones given current priorities and focus of MPANI and our Members. However other notable issues are:
- We recently submitted our response to the NI Energy Strategy and the call for evidence.
- We are currently carrying out our third Age Profiling of the Mineral Products Industry in NI.
- We will be submitting evidence to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee enquiry into the implications of Brexit for NI and the need for unfettered access between NI and GB.
- We will continue engagement with HM Treasury and HMRC following announcements in the Budget about the continued freeze of the Aggregates Levy in the UK and next steps.
- MPANI, MPA and other construction organisations have already raised concerns over the Governments Budget announcement to scrap the current rebate on red diesel by April 2022. MPANI will be engaging in the proposed consultation that will be taking place on this proposal.
- The All Island Safety conference will take place on October 14th in the Armagh City Hotel.
- Unfortunately we, like so many other organisations have had to cancel or postpone events including our AGM and the official launch of our MPANI 2020/21 Industry Journal to later dates tbc. Can I thank all of you who have supported the publication of the Journal with articles and advertising. Please remember the Journal is a two year publication and will have a relevant shelf life over that period.
Friends, as I have said previously, we are in unprecedented and dangerous times at present so please stay safe, look after your families, your workers and your business. Rest assured as a community and as human beings we will overcome and win this war against this invisible enemy.
In concluding, I just want to pay tribute and highlight my admiration to all those essential workers in our community the nurses, doctors, carers, pharmacists, delivery drivers, shop workers, police and the many others who are keeping us safe and at the front line of this war against COVID-19.
Please Stay Safe!