The £21 million earmarked in the budget for the Maze redevelopment is a wise spend that could generate thousands of jobs, Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness insist.
The First and Deputy First Minister vehemently defended the investment on the Long Kesh project following criticism from Ulster Unionist leader Tom Elliott.
Mr Elliott had questioned the level of outlay on the former prison site in the face of other cutbacks across the public sector.
But the ministers attempted to justify the four year allocation on the derelict land when they addressed their scrutiny committee at Stormont.
Mr Robinson said money had to be spent improving the infrastructure to enable development to take place.
"I was absolutely staggered when I heard his (Mr Elliott's) remarks," he said.
"The suggestion that putting the kind of funding that we are, around £20 odd million, into Maze/Long Kesh was somehow throwing money away - this is money in these financial years going for the infrastructure of what is a massive potential in terms of this site that can regenerate a whole area.
"The funding should not a be a surprise to anybody, indeed anybody who has even a minimal high school level of knowledge of the regeneration of sites would know that very significant investment has to go in to make the site ready for investment purposes."
Mr Elliott had asked what the money was being spent on, especially as the controversial peace and reconciliation centre on the site was being funded by Europe.