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Executive needs to change cavalier attitude to cash

The Northern Ireland Audit Office's report to the Assembly on financial reporting reveals there is a culture of complacency with hard-earned taxpayers' money in the Executive.

The Auditor-General has expressed concern about no fewer than six departments in his report. Considering that his work didn't even touch upon health and social services, that is extremely worrying.

Indeed, more worrying still is the Executive's nonchalant reaction to the report. If the audit of a major public company attracted this many qualifications and uncovered systemic problems with reporting, you can be sure that its shareholders would not react so complacently.

This is public money taken directly from the pockets of hard-pressed taxpayers, yet the Executive is content to fritter it away. Too often the attitude seems to be: spend it now and worry about the proprieties later.

Whether it's another half a million on unapproved consultancy, or chucking away £3m patching up the DUP and Sinn Fein's Maze vanity project, our government departments are leaking money at an alarming rate.

There needs to be a complete culture change at Stormont and throughout the Executive. The politicians and senior civil servants have to rid themselves of their air of arrogance and entitlement, as well as their cavalier approach to taxpayers' money.

This is a time of austerity and the public demands that its cash is spent carefully and audited properly. Executive members have been careless with at least £150m.

BILL McKENDRY

Northern Ireland Conservatives

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