The British election comes at a time when the prospects for the NI economy are less optimistic than we would like. The uncertain Brexit decision-making, together with the postponed departure from the EU at least until the end of January 2020, is affecting inward investment and consumer spending.
Well, this time I could obviously have written about the UK Government's latest Brexit plan. The problem is that the plan could have changed massively by the time this article is published! Instead, let's go back a little in history.
Northern Ireland, as these words are being written, has shaped the Brexit headlines. The changed customs and regulatory alignment arrangements contained in the Withdrawal Agreement agreed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson last week would bring a new complex baseline for decision making.
In its most recent financial year to March 2019, Translink did not quite balance the books. In the conventional accounts, Translink earned £238m and after deduction of expenditure showed a trading loss of £19.5m. Balance sheet financial reserves fell by £30m.
Three long years have passed since the Brexit referendum result was announced in the early hours of June 24, 2016. The date, forever etched in the political annals, has triggered a series of unprecedented political developments. Britain is now on its third prime minister.
Wrightbus has been caught in the globally disruptive move to electric buses. Despite its proven capabilities in the production and design of urban buses, it ultimately had no bus ready to compete in this new and exploding market.
Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe made the right decision by presuming the worst about Brexit in framing next month's budget. Why go for tax cuts and higher spending increases when things could really start to get hairy by the beginning of 2020?
The Belfast Region City Deal gained official support from six Northern Ireland local authorities, the Stormont administration (in the absence of an Executive) and the UK Treasury. Together, a near £900m budget has been promised to secure the delivery of 20,000 new and better jobs over a 15 year period.
Congratulations to the Department for the Economy: it has published a frank study of the factors involved in consideration of how to improve Northern Ireland's aviation connectivity, prepared by consultants at Oxford Economics.
Last week marked back to school for many households and holiday memories were fading fast. But while pictures captured on smartphones will provide reminders of the summer, what will perhaps stick in the mind most for many who holidayed abroad is the expense, with the weakness of sterling the fly in the sun lotion.
Ireland's finance minister Paschal Donohoe has some tricky decisions to make ahead of next month's Budget. Budget calls are always tricky. This time is different as Brexit looms large. So too does a possible general election in the Republic. There has been a strong feeling that if the direction and nature of Brexit became a little clearer, there would be a need to clear the political air in Ireland too.
Earlier this month, there was UK-wide comment on the prospect of reduced electricity prices because the wholesale cost of natural gas has recently been falling. Northern Ireland energy market observers were surprised to learn on August 14 that the Regulator had approved a 6.1% price increase for domestic customers from October 1.
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