Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Executive still ducking the important questions

To paraphrase Samuel Johnson, after six months of stalling, the Programme for Government (PfG) may not be done well, but one is surprised to find it done at all.

It appears to be long on vague promises and short on precise detail of how they can be delivered - or how the money will be found to pay for them.

It's telling the newly-appointed chairman of Invest NI, Mark Ennis, has already cast doubt on the PfG's job creation target.

Whether it's vague promises of professional golf tournaments, or a continued freeze in water charges, the programme is about creating headlines, rather than putting forward concrete proposals. The Executive says that its priority is the economy, yet where are the plans to cut bureaucracy and regulation?

There are some welcome initiatives. The £50m liquidity fund could provide some relief for credit-starved businesses - if it is implemented properly.

Likewise, investing in double-glazing for social housing may pay dividends by alleviating fuel poverty and improving the existing housing stock. In the main the document appears to be window-dressing. How do we create jobs, grow the economy, or deliver better services for less? How do we build a shared future?

It's disappointing that, in the Executive's second consecutive term, it is still ducking the important questions and concentrating on marketing and fluff.

IRWIN ARMSTRONG

Chairman, Northern Ireland Conservatives

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