Editor's Viewpoint: Draft budget must be sorted out soon
Alone of all the administrations on these islands, the Stormont Executive has yet to even produce a draft budget in response to the austerity measures outlined by the Chancellor, George Osborne.
Scotland and Wales have their proposals in place after the Chancellor outlined the savings to be made as a result of the Comprehensive Spending Review. Even the Republic of Ireland has managed to come up with the harshest budget in living memory in the wake of its own bail out.
Fingers are being pointed at Sinn Fein for delaying agreement on a draft budget at Stormont. Certainly the party has made it clear that it is reluctant to simply implement what it calls British cuts to the province's block grant. It has one eye on the forthcoming election in the Republic where party president Gerry Adams is seeking a seat in the Dail and the other on the Assembly and local government elections on this side of the border early next year.
But all parties have been guilty of playing politics, delaying the inevitable by bringing forward their own suggestions for saving money or raising additional revenue. Certainly it is no bad thing that the parties should be looking at innovative ways around the public spending cuts, but there is an impression that they are playing for time rather than playing for real.
While the current budget remains in place for the rest of the financial year, time is fast running out to get a new set of proposals in place
There is only one more sitting of the Executive before Christmas and if the talks continue into January there's little time to put any proposals out for public consultation and then implement them. All sectors of the economy need to know what the economic future of the province is. There is an urgent need for certainty and clarity. So far the politicians have failed to deliver the required leadership. They must show greater maturity for the sake of everyone else.