An MP has called for the Northern Ireland Executive to meet and kickstart public works projects which could ease the financial hardship of small to medium enterprises.
Eddie McGrady, SDLP MP for South Down, welcomed a statement by business and treasury minister Ian Pearson that central government would pay its suppliers, many of which are small to medium enterprises, within 10 days.
Mr McGrady described small businesses as the backbone of Northern Ireland’s community and economy: “Any measures to assist this industry are to be welcomed.”
He also said Government plans to encourage Revenue and Customs to take a flexible approach to businesses with cashflow problems were “noteworthy and necessary”.
Mr McGrady said he had also called on Mr Pearson to provide details of how his proposals for helping small businesses would operate.
He added: “I believe the Minister and the appropriate department in the Northern Ireland Assembly must also look at the de-rating of vacant properties which is also a huge burden on the small business community. Northern Ireland is in a highly disadvantaged position in terms of transport, gas and electricity costs, exacerbated by the fact there is a single market in the latter cases.
“Therefore, it is imperative that Mr Pearson provides for or armakes arrangements with the Executive to bring forward plans that will help alleviate this hardship which is almost unique to Northern Ireland.
“There is now a responsibility on this Minister and indeed all ministers, including Gordon Brown, to use their influence to encourage the Executive to meet at the earliest opportunity so it can deal and progress the many multi-million pounds of public works contracts that are stalled amid the current political logjam.”