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Concern at Strategic Investment Board appointments

25 January, 2005

Commenting on the publication of the 9th annual report of Commissioner for Public Appointments and the revelation that auditors raised serious concerns about the appointments to the Strategic Investment Board, Sinn Fein National Chairperson Mitchel McLaughlin said:

"The latest budget plans and policy agenda of direct rule ministers depends so much on the SIB that it should be a huge issue that there appears to be a lack of transparency about something as basic as the appointments process.

"I think that the lack of documentation to back up the appointments process to this super quango raises very fundamental questions about how it operates and importantly how it is managed.

"For a report from the Commissioner for Public Appointments to be unable to say whether there was documentation back up an appointments process that is clouded is secrecy or even to raise the concern that records existed but were not made available is very worrying.

"Given the dependence of direct rule ministers on the SIB to deliver their investment agenda I believe that we now need a full public investigation of exactly how the SIB is constituted and how its performance is being audited.

"Given that the SIB will be responsible for a budget of £16 billion over the coming decade the fact that it is impossible to tell whether there are any actual or potential conflicts of interest should set alarm bells ringing. The SIB will be central to the awarding of substantial contracts to the private sector. It is vital that there is absolute confidence that the huge investment programme that we desperately need is underpinned by best practice and value for money and not undermined by any conflicts of interest." ENDS

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