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Sinn Féin respond to Draft Budget Consultation

16 February, 2011

Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Mitchel McLaughlin MLA has said that Sinn Féin has today submitted a response to the consultation on the north’s Draft Budget.

Mr McLaughlin outlined his party’s view that there can be a ‘Better Way’ and that with the onset of Tory cuts, the onus was on the Assembly and Executive to take the lead in generating additional revenues, achieving fiscal and economic levers as well as working together to achieve the best deal for frontline services and those most vulnerable in our society.

Mr McLaughlin said;

“While others attempted to stand by and acquiesce with Tory cuts, Sinn Féin has consistently said that there can be a ‘Better Way’. Despite a Tory cut of £4 Billion from the north’s Block Grant, our economic proposal document identified revenue raising opportunities of over £1 Billion. This of course will not see off the impending difficulties but it shows clearly that when we stand up and stand together, we can begin to offset the worst excesses of Tory slash and burn policy.

It also highlights the very immediate and obvious need for the transfer of fiscal powers to the Assembly and Executive.

In our approach to the Budget process, Sinn Féin has been guided by the general principles that we need to grow the economy, we need to protect those who are most disadvantaged and we need to protect public services that are so vital to our economy. That includes continuing to oppose lifting the cap on student fees as suggested by the recent, revised Stuart Report.

We must also work to end the foolish and wasteful replication of services across Ireland and ensure greater harmonisation across the island; the notion that a country the size of ours can sustain two healthcare systems, two education systems, two transportation systems is simply unsustainable and detrimental to our economy.

In our submission we have outlined various ways that we believe could see further savings and additional revenue raised including the use of Housing Associations reserve, freeing up to £80 million from the Department of Social Development; the introduction of a plastic bag levy, which is being processed as a Sinn Féin Private Members Bill; and a phone mast levy which is currently under consideration by the Budget Review Group.

We see this Draft Budget proposals as a beginning of a process over the budget period to realise additional revenue into the provision of public services and to offset Tory cuts from London.” CRÍOCH

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