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British Treasury Select Committee visit highlights lack of fiscal powers at Assembly

2 March, 2009

Sinn Féin Economy Spokesperson, Mitchel McLaughlin MLA commenting by the British Treasury Select Committee said that listening to its members served only to highlight the severe lack of fiscal powers in the Assembly.

Speaking today Mr McLaughlin said:

"The key point highlighted today is the fact that the Assembly lacks fiscal ability to explore the full range of initiatives and responses required to address the present economic climate. Because of this lack of fiscal autonomy the Assembly and Executive are restricted in what they can do to help industry, compel banks to act or to alter the way public finances are administered.

"The Minister for Finance needs to meet with his Scottish and Welsh counterparts to prepare a united approach to the British treasury to relax the rules to permit front loading and acceleration of public expenditure programmes.

"This would provide many advantages. It would assist the retention of skills capacity keeping the local work force in employment. It would also enable the early delivery of vital capital projects, helping to kick-start the economy.

"This would not affect the budget. In fact it would allow payments to be drawn down in the budget years in which the programmes are allocated.

"Taking these measures together, locally elected representatives would be much better placed to tackle the economic crisis by allowing the Assembly more flexibility." CRÍOCH

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