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Invest NI needs total reorganisation and fresh focus - Anderson

30 September, 2009 - by Maeve McLaughlin

Foyle Sinn Féin MLA Martina Anderson has reiterated criticism of Invest NI and described the report into the agency by the Independent Review of Economic Policy as a damning indictment of the agency's lack of strategic vision.

Martina Anderson said:

“This report confirms the criticisms that I have been making of Invest NI's failure to deliver for a very long time– particularly in areas like Derry.

“I believe that one area that Invest NI has blatantly disregarded since it's inception and which is a requirement under the Programme for Government is in tackling Regional disparities. Here we have an organisation which has been squandering public money at an absolutely scandalous rate. I have already exposed how Invest NI squandered millions of pounds on a new headquarters that they didn’t need and how they were wasting public money by renting empty buildings in Derry.

“But from a Derry point of view we also demonstrated how Invest NI routinely failed the North West region with investment being skewed away from the North West into more affluent regions such as South Belfast.

“This report provides further evidence of the need for a complete restructuring of Invest NI and strict direction on its functions if we are to change the laissez faire approach it presently has to developing the economy.

“For too long Invest NI has failed to provide value for money – too often the promise of jobs has been grossly inflated and companies have pocketed grants and given little in return.

“Too many of the jobs have been low-wage and insecure. This has done nothing to raise living standards or tackle the poverty and inequality at the heart of our economy. The increase in funding for Research & Development (R&D) mentioned by the Chief Executive Alastair Hamilton for the next three years is totally inadequate and demonstrates his failure to recognise that this is where the largest slice of his budget should be directed.”

It would seem that the past practice of Invest NI where the bulk of its financial assistance is directed at maintaining a low wage economy through its fixation on call-centre type jobs will continue .

“Invest NI need to move beyond the world of favoured ‘clients’ to provide more professional support to all businesses and if there is to be a special focus it should be on indigenous industry and R&D.”

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