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New Executive must have real Peace Dividend at its disposal

22 September, 2003

Former Chairperson of the Assembly, Mid Ulster representative Cllr Francie Molloy has said that any new Executive must have a real Peace Dividend at its disposal.

Mr Molloy said:

"As discussions with the two governments intensify and pressure mounts on the British government to hold Assembly elections it is vital that the key issue of a peace dividend is properly addressed.

"Executive needs the power to target resources and investment to those areas and people most disadvantaged. There is inequality and poverty in our society, and both must be eradicated if we are to build on the promise of the peace process and Good Friday Agreement.

"A new Executive must have a real peace dividend at its' disposal. There can be no more tinkering around the edges. The British government must also address the growing demand for greater economic sovereignty that includes tax-varying powers. We must have real control over the setting of our objectives and goals for public service expenditure and investment. Economic sovereignty is key to the ability of the Executive being able to deliver.

"The Reform and Reinvestment Initiative is no substitute for a real peace dividend. It is money that we must repay through increases in rates and the imposition of water charges. Yet both fail to address the core problem of the Barnett formula or deal with the legacy of under investment and disinvestments from the Six Counties.

"The unfair Barnett formula must be challenged and tens years into the peace dividend should be secured by transferring expenditure on the British war machine to rebuilding a society emerging from conflict. The British Government must live up to their responsibilities. We also need to see greater investment from the Irish Government to meet their financial responsibilities in the North - especially in border areas.

"Sinn Féin believes that with tax varying powers a local Executive would be able to both develop and target tax incentives towards areas of high unemployment, towards small businesses or specific sectors. Targeted tax breaks would create a vital tool in supporting employment and sustaining and developing the strength of the local economy.

"Without any measure of economic sovereignty we will always be forced to make decisions, especially around the issues of expenditure on public services, which are dictated to a large degree by the British Exchequer. As long as we are tied to Britain we will never have fiscal independence.

"The Executive needs to be in the position to develop a progressive taxation policy based on creating tax incentives to tackle unemployment and support the local economy alongside a genuine drive for greater economic sovereignty and progressive taxation system based on what people earn and their ability to pay. " ENDS

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