Belfast Telegraph

Friday 1 August 2014

Executive is doing more than just making cuts

I read with interest John Simpson's recent article headlined 'Why we need more than cuts' (Business Telegraph, May 15).

In his article, John asks the Executive to consider two questions: whether it is doing enough to generate savings in the public sector and whether greater use could be made of external finance.

On generating savings, I would respond by highlighting the fact that the final departmental expenditure on administration costs in 2011-12 was actually 13% below the level actually budgeted for at the start of the year.

I have, as Finance Minister, repeatedly acknowledged the need to provide some form of economic stimulus. One example is my allocation of a further £40m for the housing co-ownership scheme.

The Executive also agreed to move some £140m from resource (current) spending into capital projects over the Budget 2011-15 period. My recent announcement of new capital projects (including the revised A5 road scheme) will bring about a major enhancement to our physical infrastructure.

The Executive is already exploiting its £200m-per-annum borrowing facility under the reinvestment and reform initiative (RRI) with HM Treasury, borrowing some £1.3bn to date. Alternative sources of external finance are extremely limited. My officials have explored all known options.

I would assure John Simpson that I agree that Executive policy should be about 'more than cuts'. I believe the current Budget policies tread that fine line between the need for fiscal responsibility, while also providing some form of economic stimulus.

SAMMY WILSON MP MLA

Minister of Finance

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