Economic recovery needs sustainable public finances, CBI Northern Ireland warns
Northern Ireland's economic recovery could be undermined if critical decisions are not taken within weeks at Stormont, a leading business organisation said.
The rest of the UK and Ireland is forging ahead and local public finances need to be put on a sustainable footing, CBI Northern Ireland vice chair, David Gavaghan said. Arlene Foster also warned the weeks ahead will be crucial for the economy.
Sinn Fein believes benefits changes will harm the most vulnerable and has called on the British Government to pay more money recognising Northern Ireland's special place as a society emerging from conflict.
Mr Gavaghan said: "We recognise the critical importance of putting the region's public finances on a sustainable footing and the imperative for us all to operate within our financial means. Political and economic stability are an essential ingredient to business and consumer confidence.
"It is increasingly apparent that the economy in the rest of the UK (and Ireland) is forging ahead. Critical decisions need to be taken by our local political representatives in the next few weeks otherwise are we are in danger of undermining our much needed economic recovery."
Politicians have been feuding about the Stormont House Agreement since early this year - the DUP urging welfare changes and Sinn Fein vowing to battle austerity.
The DUP finance minister Ms Foster told a Belfast business lunch: "T he coming weeks and months will be of crucial importance to both the political and economic future of Northern Ireland.
"Following a protracted period of uncertainty it is now becoming critical that all parties follow through on implementing the Stormont House Agreement, including the key issue of welfare reform.
"The Stormont House Agreement is a comprehensive holistic agreement - agreed by all the parties involved in the negotiations before Christmas."
She said it was not a pick and choose a la carte agreement.
"Welfare; public sector reform; voluntary exit scheme; education, the past, corporation tax - all have to be dealt with and no issue can be ignored.
"That is why if others refuse to face up to the reality of welfare reform then our national government must deal with that specific issue and legislate because without welfare being dealt with everything else falls away."