Belfast Telegraph

Chancellor Osborne delivers a body blow to our economy

By Angela McGowan

The Autumn Statement was a huge disappointment for Northern Ireland. Other than a brief reference to the possibility of devolving corporation tax "if the conditions are right" there was very little by way of support or initiatives to really boost our long-term economic growth prospects.

The coalition government has committed massive amounts of money to cement the north of England as a world leader in science and technology, but nothing of that nature was made available for Northern Ireland's economy.

Any initiatives thrown in our direction are predicated on upfront reductions to the block grant and questions need to be asked about who will be taking the hit when it is slashed. The latest draft budget from Stormont suggests it will be young people and universities - essential to our future labour force.

Northern Ireland has been left with a massive hole in public expenditure and no simulative fiscal injections to lay the foundations for our long-term economic growth.

For Northern Ireland's private sector to flourish, the UK Government is determined to slash local public spending first. Yet this is one of the poorest UK regions, with the lowest wages, lowest productivity and an under-developed private sector. Growth initiatives are needed for this region, not huge upfront pruning of the public sector.

It appears the coalition's desire to rebalance our economy will be achieved by matching the size of the public sector to the size of the private sector, not the other way round.

Angela McGowan is chief economist, Danske Bank

Belfast Telegraph