Sinn Féin Vice-Chair of the Enterprise Committee, Phil Flanagan MLA has said that Finance Minister, Simon Hamilton’s answers to economic questions are as unconvincing as the British Treasury figures that he blindly parrots.
Mr Flanagan said:
“The Treasury withheld the publication of figures pertaining to the amount of public expenditure attached to the north because of issues of accuracy and quality. It has stated clearly that its figures are not resource accounts. Yet Mr Hamilton repeats these figures as fact. Sinn Féin has consistently urged successive DUP Finance Ministers to challenge the figures produced by the British Treasury – but to no avail. What is the DUP afraid of? Could it be that as in other areas their insecurities may be confirmed by the facts?
“If for example, according to the 2012 Year on Year report, Whitehall civil servants spent up to £1.7 billion on Royal travel, Central administration, rail projects, museums, the British Space programme, Foreign Embassies etc, that have little relevance to the North, why should we contribute disproportionately to the benefit.
“The Finance Minister has a responsibility to the people to scrutinise all claims of expenditure on the North so that we can challenge any discrepancy in Treasury figures.
“His comments that tax payers in the north are heavily reliant on the tax from British tax payers are condescending, insulting and propagates the myth that there is no revenue generated in the North of Ireland. This is an insult to tax payers in the North
“Fiscal transfers such as the block grant are part and parcel of any economy. Contrary to what Simon Hamilton claims, these treasury figures tell us nothing about the viability of a United Ireland but everything about the limitations of the Finance Minister.
“Does the Minister deny that, elimination of duplication through integrated public services in a new agreed Ireland would reduce costs, enhance provision and ensure that the people of Ireland had democratic control over their public finances?
“It’s time the Minister demanded accurate figures from Treasury and Customs and Excise and then we can have a proper informed debate on where our future best lies.”