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Budget underspend must be reprioritised - Mitchel McLaughlin MLA

3 June, 2008

Sinn Féin Economy Spokesperson and Assembly Finance Scrutiny Committee Chair, Mitchel McLaughlin MLA (South Antrim) has said that the Executive, through the End of Year Flexibility and in-year monitoring rounds, needs to reprioritise the money under spent by the Executive departments to those areas most in need.

Commenting after the Finance Minster revealed that £177 million in current expenditure and £76 million in capital expenditure was not utilized Mr McLaughlin said:

"In negotiations on the Budget and Programme for Government, Sinn Fein ensured that future financial decisions would be measured against equality criteria. It is therefore essential that through the End of Year Flexibility and in-year monitoring rounds that the Executive ensure that any Departmental underspend be effectively reprioritised.

"But what people want to see is more money spent in the areas that matter most - on education and housing, on jobs, economic development and training and on the environment and transport infrastructure.

"All Ministers have questions to answer about their Department's levels of under spending. I know that many people will be concerned that the Environment and Renewable Energy Funding Package was under-spent by 13.5% and the Children & Young People's Funding Package had an under-spend on current expenditure of 4.3%.

"While we need to see better financial management across the system what no-one needs is for money that needs to be spent in particular areas being lost to those priorities.

"The Executive can use its flexibility to ensure that there is more money made available for issues such as a not-for-profit mortgage scheme and the lack of social and affordable housing, extended schools, rural regeneration and the tackling the crisis of hospital acquired infections such as C-difficle and MRSA related deaths in our hospitals - all issues that the Executive needs to respond to." ENDS

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