Sinn Féin Deputy Chair of the Enterprise Committee, Phil Flanagan MLA commenting on the British Treasury position that there will be no Barnett consequentials as a result of the 4G spectrum licence, worth some£1.4 billion said:
“This is just another example of the failure of the Barnett formula to fairly distribute funds and confirms the Sinn Féin view that the local economy is losing out as a result of the lack of fiscal powers under the control of the Executive.
“Sinn Féin believes that as with the sale of any other asset the Executive should be getting a return from this auction.
“It should then be up to the Executive to decide how to invest any return whether that be on capital projects or other job creation measures, mitigating against Welfare Reform or increasing the budget for departments such as Education and Health.
“The British Treasury’s decision to retain 100% of receipts from this auction demonstrates how we are disadvantaged as a result of being tied to Whitehall decision making.
“While we are lectured incessantly about the amount of subsidy received through the Block grant, this position highlights just one more area where the British Treasury is deriving unaccounted for revenue from here which is not reflected in the calculation of the Executive’s budget. This situation shows the failure of the Barnett formula to fairly distribute funds and the need for it to be reviewed.
“The British Treasury position is unacceptable and strengthens the argument that our interests would be best served by not only having full fiscal powers transferred to the Executive but control over other areas such as telecommunications and broadcasting should also be transferred.
“I have achieved agreement from the Enterprise, Trade & Investment Committee to take evidence from Ofcom on November 22nd on the 4G licensing process. I will be seeking much greater clarity from them on how this auction will take place and Sinn Féin will also be pursuing the British Government on this issue.” CRÍOCH