Commenting on a Net Fiscal Balance Report from the Department of Finance (DFP), Deputy Chair of the Enterprise Committee (ETI), Phil Flanagan MLA said:
“It is clear that this Report contains absolutely no statement of fact but is based purely on quesstimates and speculation.
“Last week at a NICVA sponsored event on the need for accurate economic data in order to plan fiscal policies my party colleague Daithí McKay said; ‘sound economic decision-making is dependent on having accurate data. Accurate and comprehensive economic data is central to developing and implementing policies for economic growth and job creation’.
“It is obvious that this Report does not meet this criteria. The fact is that there is no accurate statement/data on - among other things - income tax revenue. Even the British Treasury and its Office of Statistics make it clear that these figures are neither accurate nor official.
“Rather than carry out so-called research for the purpose of justifying its subservient bidding to Whitehall fiscal policies, DUP Ministers would serve the people here better by producing accurate and comprehensive data to enable us to formulate sound and sustainable economic policy. Estimating revenue based on poorly researched surveys is no substitute for accurate data. The ETI Committee has agreed to carry out a detailed inquiry into the issue of inaccurate, missing and untimely economic data available in the north of Ireland.
“This report is an unnecessary and wasteful distraction from the debate on transfer of full fiscal responsibilities that needs to take place.
“The report was withheld while Simon Hamilton attempted to reconcile his dodgy figures with the equally dodgy figures produced by British Revenue and Customs. The £1bn difference between the British and local figures, is an illustration of just how inaccurate both sets of figures are. The report is poorly calculated, poorly presented and two years out of date
“The fact is that data relating to the North’s public finances is not available and that is the deficit that Simon Hamilton needs to address.” CRÍOCH/END