Hain defence of rates 'dishonest'
Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson, Mid Ulster MLA Francie Molloy has branded British Secretary of State Peter Hain‚s defence of his rates system as "dishonest".
Mr Molloy said:
"For Peter Hain to claim that anyone here is a winner out of the new rates system is totally dishonest. The fact is that this year Peter Hain forced a 19% increase onto the local councils and that once the British governments new Water Charges are factored in that everyone will be paying substantially more through rates and water charges than at present.
"Even allowing for inflation, the reality is that this is the outworking of a British Treasury strategy to increase the amount of revenue raised for the Exchequer here while at the same time reducing expenditure of public services. In the case of water the British government are actually penalising us for their failure to invest the money in the water and sewerage infrastructure that we have already paid for through our rates.
"The fact is that what the British government have put on the table will cause immense hardship, particularly for pensioners and many of the working poor. We need to come up with solutions that protect those most vulnerable in our society. We need to look at not just the basis of levying rates but fundamentally at the ability of people to pay. In particular, Sinn Féin have consistently argued for tax varying powers to be available to the Executive.
"Hain today has shown that he is not listening. The only way that we will address this is issue is when we get locally accountable ministers at the helm taking these important decisions and responding to the people who vote for them. We have the DUP to thank for the current political stalemate that leaves us all at the mercy of the British Treasury." ENDS