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Sinn Féin slams IDB following the findings of Audit Office Report on Valence Technology

25 February, 2009

Sinn Féin Chairperson of the PAC, Paul Maskey MLA, has said that he welcomes what he has called a unique and exposing report from the Audit Office on the Review of assistance to Valence Technology.

The background of the report includes the years from 1993 - 2007.

Mr Maskey stated

"This report highlights a number of key findings. In 1993 there was an offer of £27m in grants and factory investment of £5.6m to Valence in return for corresponding investment of £147m and the delivery of 660 jobs by march 1998, but the company failed to develop the technology proposed at the outset and experienced ongoing difficulties in development, production and delivery throughout its existence.

"In 2003 Valence relocated in China at this stage £15m (of £33m) of funding had been spent by IDB.

Mr Maskey continued:

"In many areas the IDB acted completely unprofessionally in its approach to this investment, the IDB granted aid before preconditions were met, they released additional funding when employment targets had clearly not been met, and they agreed price for factory prior to obtaining VLA advice which subsequently valued the site at £175k below agreed price.

In 2001 financial assistance cap increased from £5m - £11m despite serious worries over viability - e.g. cost of manufacturing battery was $57, yet it retailed for $12.

"One of the biggest findings apparent to me in this report highlights that 17 days after the issue of £3.9m grant, Valence announced reduction in staff from 417 to 97.

"This is simply a case of how the government here worked, and that I am sure that when this comes in front of the PAC there will be many questions asked from the members. We can't allow this behaviour to continue and we must ensure that the departments responsible learn that this type of behaviour is simply unacceptable."

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