Belfast Telegraph

Business chief wants OBR to advise Stormont on economics

By Rachel Martin

One of Northern Ireland's leading business figures has called for a powerful watchdog which oversees government budgets to keep an eye on the Executive's spending.

Paul Terrington, chairman of the Institute of Directors (IoD), said that the remit of the watchdog the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR) should be extended to Northern Ireland. The business leader also described the political situation at Stormont as "Groundhog Day", adding that deadlines need to be put in place for political talks or local business would suffer.

In his address to over 200 business leaders at the organisation's annual lunch, he said that the Executive had been offered an extra £2bn in spending power.

He said an extension of the powers to Northern Ireland would ensure good return on the investment.

"In business this would in part be achieved through the appointment of independent non-executive directors and, in this context, I believe that the Secretary of State should call on Robert Chote of the OBR to actively extend its remit to Northern Ireland.

"She should tell the OBR to examine and report on the public finances, consider the costs and implications of welfare reform and help determine how best to put Northern Ireland's finances on a sustainable footing.

"We live in a real world where, when things go wrong in the business, you bring in expert advisors to identify problems and recommend solutions.

"I want a Northern Ireland plc with a vision and investment strategy that delivers real return."

Belfast Telegraph