Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 30 September 2014

Sammy Wilson to remain in his job to oversee new budget

Finance Minister Sammy Wilson is to stay on in the post as the Executive awaits swingeing public spending cuts.

The DUP is expected to confirm shortly that Mr Wilson will be remaining in the job and overseeing a planned new Stormont budget.

The budgetary process is scheduled to continue into early 2011 and will be a tough challenge for ministers, with spending powers severely squeezed.

Mr Wilson is one of only two DUP MPs not to have given up his Assembly seat in recent months. The other is East Londonderry representative Gregory Campbell.

The DUP pledged to swiftly end double-jobbing in its General Election manifesto earlier this year.

But there have been calls — including from this newspaper — for Mr Wilson to be retained given the scale of the looming public expenditure problems.

SDLP leader Margaret Ritchie and party colleague Dr Alasdair McDonnell are sticking with their dual roles as MPs and MLAs.

And all five of Sinn Fein's abstentionist MPs are also Assembly Members, including Stormont ministers Martin McGuinness, Conor Murphy and Michelle Gildernew.

On the public spending front, meanwhile, the countdown is continuing to October 20, when Tory Chancellor George Osborne will make his long-awaited spending review announcement.

It will reveal the extent of cutbacks for the Stormont Executive's budget over four years starting next April.

The most recent indications are that recurrent Government expenditure on goods and services — current spending — may not be hit as harshly as previously expected.

However, capital spending — on development projects like news schools, roads and hospitals — is now in line for more severe cuts.

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