I have to severely question the road the Finance Minister Peter Robinson has sent us down concerning the economy and society in Northern Ireland.
Mr Robinson put economic growth at the heart of the draft Budget, but I am afraid that he will not be able to deliver on his promises. This is due to the fact that the emphasis of the Budget has been placed on securing direct inward investment.
The publication of the Varney Review pretty much destroys any hope of gaining the amount of inward investment to stimulate the private sector that is required. This is coupled with the fact that Mr Robinson has instigated a Budget that oversees relatively severe cuts in the Health and Social Development budgets. Mr Robinson is seeking a sizeable reduction in the size of the public sector, but the public sector in Northern Ireland has been the driving force of the economy for decades. As Belfast Telegraph Business editor Nigel Tilson has said, this smacks of putting the cart before the horse.
Mr Robinson needs to come up with some innovative thinking. He and his colleagues can no longer rely on 'no and never' politics. The Budget and the Programme for Government have missed opportunities.
The lack of investment and policy concerning the arts will have a knock on affect on tourism. There has also been nothing on the growth of a green economy sector. These are areas in which we have natural assets and enthusiasm that could be helped by Government investment and sympathetic policy.
But what has happened is short-sighted thinking from a short-sighted Finance Minister who has placed all his eggs in the one basket. We deserve more than one idea.
Lewis Clarke, Belfast