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McLaughlin welcomes debate on Draft Budget

31 January, 2011

Sinn Féin Economy Spokesperson, Mitchel McLaughlin MLA (South Antrim) welcoming the Assembly debate on the draft Budget said:

“I welcome the contributions by all parties to the budget process. Today’s ‘take note’ debate is another step towards an agreed Final budget.

In early October 2010, Sinn Féin produced a comprehensive set of proposals to mitigate against the worst effects of the Tory led imposition of £4billion reduction in the Assembly Budget.

“Our document contained proposals for efficiency savings as well as a number of revenue raising measures. Some of these proposals which identified £1.6billion of savings and new revenue are contained in the Draft Budget. This resulted in allocation so far of £800million to departments to help alleviate the worst effects of the Tory cuts. I have no doubt that the effects on essential services would have been much more severe if not for Sinn Féin’s resistance to those Ministers who were prepared to simply administer the cuts imposed by Whitehall.

“A Budget review team consisting of representatives from all of the Assembly Parties are now examining these proposals in an effort to identify further revenue streams.

“It is crucial that to the best of our ability, we deliver frontline public services in health, education and transport; invest in capital infrastructure projects; ensure adequate housing for all and end poverty and disadvantage. If we are to do this efficiently it is imperative that the Executive demand maximum fiscal powers be transferred to the Assembly. Otherwise we are hamstrung in our attempts to properly project our economic future.

“It is also clear that we need to recognise the economic realities that exist and plan the economy on an all-Ireland basis. Throughout the island of Ireland the vast majority of jobs are provided by indigenous SME’s. It is obvious therefore that economic growth through research and development to promote and enhance indigenous companies is imperative if we are to rebuild our economy.

“This will be achieved through investment, job creation, and all-Ireland co-operation – not through cuts to public sector jobs, social welfare projects and essential services.

“The greater co-operation on an all-Ireland basis, the greater the delivery of substantial savings and stability! Evidence of the benefits of co-operation can be seen in more efficient and effective public service provision such as the cancer services at Altnagelvin Hospital covering the cross border North West Region, the linkages between Letterkenny IT and Derry’s Magee University education campuses, and the A5 Aughnacloy to Derry/Donegal and A8 Larne road dualling projects.

“This is a very clear message that we will be putting to the people of Ireland in the forthcoming months and one that has already been widely accepted as a positive and constructive way forward by the business community.”

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