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Gildernew outlines Budget concerns to committee

15 January, 2008

Sinn Féin Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle Gildernew MP, MLA today updated the Assembly Committee on several issues, including the limitations on what she could do within the Executive's Draft Budget.

She indicated that the Draft Budget would allow her to continue to strive to achieve the Vision and Strategic Goals set out in her Department's five year Strategic Plan, but acknowledged that she would not be able to do everything she would want to do.

Outlining her concerns, the Minister said:

"There are two particular areas where we will not be able to make the progress I want to make. Specifically, in respect of the Red Meat Task Force, we are addressing the agenda set out in the report, but we, as yet, have had no additional capital allocation which would enable us to assist this hard pressed part of the industry with any proposals that may emerge from this round of investigations.

"In 2008/9 we will carry out a full programme of flood alleviation works, but in the following two years there is a risk we will have to delay some capital schemes as we are not able to meet all the resource bids of the Rivers Agency. "

The Minister went on to explain that she would be progressing Efficiency Delivery Plans, including increasing the target for timber sales receipts by the Forest Service. She concluded:

"I remain convinced that we have a good outcome for rural communities and would hope that we can remedy some of the shortfalls in the Budget either in the Final Budget or as in year pressures. The committee and I are on the same side in trying to serve rural communities and as we shape the Final Budget, I appreciate the committee's interest and support."

At today's meeting the Minister also updated the committee on a range of issues including the CAP healthcheck, December Fisheries Council outcome in Brussels, dangerous dogs, progress on the Farm Nutrient Management Scheme, Bluetongue and the recent English cases of Avian Flu in Dorset.

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