Budget, Programme for Government and Investment Strategy
Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson, MLA Mitchel McLaughlin, who is chair of the Assembly Finance Committee, has welcomed Executive agreement on the Budget, Programme for Government and Investment Strategy and particularly agreement that equality mechanisms, the Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA) process, would by used to determine future funding and policy decisions.
Mr McLaughlin said:
"There is no escaping the major obstacles to the progressive development and delivery by the Executive of a new social economic and political reality. These include the fact that taxation and public expenditure policy are all set in London. The Union with Britain is damaging to the Six Counties. However, agreement to put equality at the heart of decision making is an important step forward.
"Sinn Féin engaged in intensive discussions with the DUP about shaping the substance of these key policies - including addressing the shortcomings in departmental allocations.
"We were determined to achieve progress on funding for mental health/Bamford and the Fire Service, Social Housing, Youth Services and Early Years Childcare and also Arts funding. We are confident that there will be progress in all of these areas - in terms of additional expenditure for children, health and housing. However, we still have major concerns about the reliance on PFI/PPP type solutions and projections based of efficiency savings and realising assets.
"Our focus has been to ensure progress on the equality agenda and particularly agreement that equality mechanisms, the Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA) process, would be used to determine future funding and policy decisions. This approach can have a significant impact on eliminating inequalities and tackling poverty and disadvantage.
"The three Sinn Fein departments have already completed separate Equality consultation processes but now the Budget, Programme for Government and Investment Strategy will be subject to scrutiny against the equality criteria. We are determined to hold all Ministers to the requirement to deliver on equality. We believe that we have secured significant progress on the issue and agreement and acceptance that equality is a key issue for the Executive." ENDS