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Financial lessons just aren't being learnt at Invest NI

Published 30/09/2015

Alistair Hamilton, chief executive of Invest NI, in his letter (Write Back, September 23) corrects an error in your article which suggested it made a £23m loss. He indicated that, in fact, the £23m was not an actual financial loss, but a debt provision.

He then admitted the financial loss made as a result of grants made to 170 companies, which have subsequently all gone bust, was actually a mere £15.8m instead.

Perhaps he could kindly explain two further points, as his reply raises more questions than answers concerning Invest NI's financial management.

Firstly, why is there is a need for Invest NI to have such a very high debt provision figure of £27m? Does it expect to make more losses than expected? Secondly, could he kindly explain whether any effort at all is being made to recover the lost £15.8m from the firms which went bust, and whether Invest NI will ensure losses of this magnitude do not happen again?

It suggests to me from his response Invest NI is an organisation whose risk management and governance procedures for providing funding may have been overruled for the political expediency of "good news" and another ministerial photo opportunity.

In the light of the recent NIO performance review of Invest NI, it would appear lessons have not been learnt.


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