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Bombardier job cuts: the Executive has failed economy

By Johnny Andrews

Published 25/02/2016

Northern Ireland- 27th February 2014 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye.
Talks continue at Stormont in east Belfast regarding the recent issue of letters being sent to republicans who were considered to be 'on the run' stating they would not be prosecuted if they returned to the UK. General view of Parliament Buildings at Stormont.
Northern Ireland- 27th February 2014 Mandatory Credit - Photo-Jonathan Porter/Presseye. Talks continue at Stormont in east Belfast regarding the recent issue of letters being sent to republicans who were considered to be 'on the run' stating they would not be prosecuted if they returned to the UK. General view of Parliament Buildings at Stormont.

The announcement of almost 1,000 job losses at Bombardier was the latest in a series of blows for manufacturing here.

The Executive - led by the DUP and Sinn Fein - continues to fail the economy.

This failure was given recognition when the Northern Ireland Composite Economic Index said economic activity had fallen almost 1% over the second and third quarters of 2015.

One of the chief problems manufacturers cite is the high cost of energy in Northern Ireland.

Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell announced the creation of an advisory group to examine this issue, but it has been postponed until after the Assembly election. That's not good enough.

Two years ago, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment commissioned a review into red tape, as firms here are mired in regulation.

Unfortunately, while the review was published in November 2014, there has as yet been no action on its contents.

The picture is similar when it comes to Air Passenger Duty (APD). A Commons committee found that this tax was hampering Northern Ireland's economy.

While powers to cut APD will be devolved to Scotland by 2021, our Executive has decided not to press for similar controls. The result is 350,000 passengers per year lost to Dublin, at a cost of 350 jobs.

The picture as regards employment regulations is equally bleak. Northern Ireland sits a dismal 117th in the OECD's league table of employment flexibility, and yet moves to reform employment law have stalled.

Neither has Stormont made much progress toward building the type of stable society that businesses need to thrive.

Issues around flags and parades were put to one side during the Fresh Start talks before Christmas.

The Executive could have used that agreement as a genuine fresh start, moving on to tackle issues with competitiveness that stunt our economy. Instead, it missed that opportunity.

Now, it must raise its game and work to encourage an enterprise culture in Northern Ireland - otherwise dole queues will only lengthen.

Johnny Andrews is economy spokesman for the NI Conservatives

Belfast Telegraph

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