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Sinn Féin dismissive of Varney 2

1 May, 2008

Sinn Féin Economy Spokesperson, Mitchel McLaughlin MLA (South Antrim) has dismissed David Varney's Report into the North's competitiveness as a lost opportunity to instil new thinking into boosting our economy and devoid of any inspiration.

Mitchel McLaughlin said:

"The Varney 2 Report does nothing to tell us anything new about the North's economy or of how to make it more competitive. In Varney 1 local economists, business organisations and politiciansidentified the tax regime as a key issue in growing the economy. Yet Varney dismisses the idea of tax incentives for R&D as a means of attracting the high value jobs that the North so obviously needs.

"Instead he is telling us that in order to become more competitive we must privatise large sections of the public sector such as Belfast Port, the NI Vehicle Testing Agency, public car parks and parts of the public housing stock in order to generate more assets. Is this the Peace Dividend that we were promised? Sell off public assets in order to correct the mismanagement of the economy by successive British Direct Rule administrations. The failed policy of privatisation is no solution to the North's economic needs

"Other areas of his report are just a restatement of what Sinn Féin and others have argued in the past. We know that we need to grow the private sector but not at the expense of the public sector. We have on many occasions highlighted the failings in apprenticeship training where our young people could be taught skills tailored for local industrial needs.

"The Education Minister, against misplaced opposition is intent on improving basic numeracy and literacy skills through her proposed educational reforms. And we have consistently called for a review of the remit of Invest NI. David Varney could have produced these suggestions simply by reading Hansard." ENDS

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