Conor Murphy MP/MLA - economy - Ard Fheis
Partition has failed this country and continued partitionist economics will fail another generation. An all-Ireland Economic recovery plan is required to deliver sustainable long lasting economic growth.
Sinn Féin believes an economic recovery requires a radical reshaping of how Government and the financial and public sector have traditionally operated, in order to best serve the needs of citizens.
We face important challenges as a post-conflict society and the political institutions on this island need to deliver the social and economic change that is required. It is critical that we deliver world class frontline public services in health, education and transport, invest in capital infrastructure projects and tackle poverty and disadvantage.
Logic dictates that economic recovery requires consistent consumer spending to encourage further investment and stimulate growth. Removing €billions from the domestic economy through paying unsecured bondholders who recklessly gambled on the financial markets and lost while at the same time increasing household charges and taxes only serves to reduce further the disposable income that families have to spend.
Sinn Fein advocates economic proposals, which will decisively tackle the current public expenditure deficit, avoid unnecessary cuts in frontline public services and save jobs across all sectors and stimulate the Irish economy towards recovery and sustainability.
Duplication and overlapping expenditure on the island of Ireland is wasteful and expensive within both jurisdictions. Actions could be taken immediately to develop a joint approach to addressing the economic downturn by examining areas where savings can be made.
Our proposals for an island economy are not about rationalisation of jobs – instead they are about cost-saving directed at reducing administration expenses and the cost of future projects.
When discussing the issue of an all-Ireland economy we are often confronted by those who use the fact that the North’s economy is heavily influenced by British fiscal policies.
Therefore, in order to build a strong, sustainable island economy it is necessary that we take maximum fiscal powers from London to the control of the Assembly. This would facilitate designing an economic model that could accommodate the equalising of the tax and revenue regimes across the island.
We are also regularly reminded about the North’s dependence on subsidy from the British government and this is used as a political reason against building an all-Ireland economy.
But what is never revealed is the amount of tax revenues collected through VAT, Income Tax, Custom &Excise and a myriad of other taxes which go directly to the British Exchequer. One of the effects of partition has been to create the impression that we are irretrievably dependent on subsidy from the British Exchequer.
Well, let us test that. The Assembly’s Finance Minister should request from the British Government an accurate Revenue/Expenditure Report.
I believe it would be very interesting and illuminating if we had properly accounted figures telling us how much revenue is actually generated in the North for the British Exchequer against the finance returned in the form of the Block grant. It would be beneficial to the debate around the transfer of fiscal powers and the building of an all-Ireland economy if we were in possession of all the facts concerning tax revenue including the profits of British based chain stores, oil companies etc generated here but taxed as profits declared by the parent companies located in Britain.
This could then inform the debate on the sustainability of an all-Ireland economy. A motion passed at last year’s Ard Fheis recognised that moving out of recession and into economic growth is dependent on developing a competitive economy, maximising trade, investing in infrastructure, employment, education and innovation, research and development. And that the Irish economy is too small to support two disparate and competing approaches to economic development.
It is time that in the North we take fiscal powers away from London and invest them in the Executive and for Dublin to take economic decisions based on its responsibilities to the Irish people and not in the interests of faceless, nameless international gamblers in the form of bondholders. If we are to resuscitate the Irish economy – on the whole island – we must take control of our own economic destiny.