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Molloy - Audit Report into borrowing highlights deep flaws

7 December, 2006

Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson, Mid Ulster MLA Francie Molloy, former Chairperson of the Assembly Finance and Personnel Committee has said that the Audit Report into borrowing highlights deep flaws with the Reinvestment and Reform Initiative that has exposed people here to an unnecessary debt burden that will also reduce the fiscal flexibility of any incoming Executive.

Mr Molloy said:

"The Audit report tells us that the departments, particularly under direct rule, have mismanaged their budgets and drawn down unnecessary loans from the British Exchequer that will saddle people here with an unnecessary debt burden.

"When the RRI was launched Sinn Féin warned that it would lead to increases in rates and the introduction of other revenue raising streams such as the water charges. Last year rates went up by 19% to cover this borrowing and now we discover that some £200 million of public money was unspent while borrowing has now risen to over £400 million.

"This report also reinforces our concerns about a dependence on Public Private Partnerships and PFI, particularly in relation to incurring substantial long term repayment liability for projects that may become unviable.

"The upshot of all of this is that people will be facing higher rates bills and any incoming Executive will have less financial flexibility in setting its own priorities. This is why Sinn Féin are determined to achieve a strong economic package that can deliver sustained investment in infrastructure without increasing the burden on local people.

"There is a growing momentum behind the campaign for much greater local fiscal control including on issues such as local tax varying powers and borrowing.

"This whole mess also highlights the need for a return of local institutions and real accountability. It exposes the reality behind the British governments determination to impose water charges." ENDS

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