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We must tackle public sector strife head on

With awards season in full swing, the dickie bow barely has time to recover from one dinner to the next these days.

Last night saw the one we have all been waiting for - the 2012 Belfast Telegraph Business Awards - taking us right across the full spectrum of industries in Northern Ireland, with everything from energy companies to agri-food firms and pharmaceuticals to IT showing off their talents and achievements.

The array of innovation and resilience on display gives hope for our future economic security and provides the proof, if it were needed, that despite the hardship faced by the struggling global economy, Northern Ireland's most industrious are reaching for the stars. One of the most interesting aspects of the evening was the guest speaker, Nick Leeson.

If anyone can calm our panic about the world's economy, it's the man who brought down Barings Bank and lived to tell the tale.

Even he must be slightly surprised by the depths of recession which some regions of the world have got themselves into and about the political ramifications being felt as a result of attempts to tackle the debt.

You only have to take a look at the Netherlands and France in recent days to see that leaders who implement harsh austerity measures aren't popular.

When the electorate get a chance to vote, they use their weight to oust those who have cut public spending and made life more difficult.

And therein lies the problem for our own executive, one challenged with rebalancing an economy which breaks out in cold turkey sweats at the thought of reducing the size of our public sector.

Hard decisions have already been made at a political level but more must be done to make our private sector the envy of the world and it's there that strong leadership is needed.

The finalists of our awards are leading the way and all we need is for more of our indigenous firms to put their head above the parapet and help put the public sector in the shade.

If Nick Leeson has taught us anything, it's to be upfront about our problems and not hide them away in the 88888 account, the one he famously used to store erroneous trades.

We need to make sure we don't put our public sector in the same account but instead, tackle it head on.