Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Criticism of Executive ill-informed and misleading

In his article in the Belfast Telegraph (Business, October 20), Ulster Bank chief economist Richard Ramsey put forward a view that the Executive should improve its support for the local construction industry.

In particular, Mr Ramsey argued that the Executive needs to do more to address the significant capital reduction imposed on it by the UK government in the 2010 UK Spending Review.

I am astonished this point was made without any recognition of the fact that a major factor behind the severe capital spending reduction was the economic downturn caused by the banking crisis.

Most prominent among the banks bailed out was Mr Ramsey's parent company, Royal Bank of Scotland, of which the UK government now owns 82%. It is misleading to say the Executive has not done enough to help the construction sector.

The Executive took the strategic decision, as part of the 2011-15 Budget, to switch £256m from resource expenditure into capital investment.

We also committed to delivering nearly £600m of capital receipts over the Budget period. These actions mean we plan to invest £1.5bn by 2014-15.

There was also a significant amount of additional resources allocated in the recent October monitoring round, which will provide a boost for our construction sector. It is easy to criticise the Executive. I do, however, despair when criticism or comment is based on ill-informed views.

SAMMY WILSON

Minister for Finance and Personnel

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