Belfast Telegraph

Finance Minister warns of more hard decisions

The Northern Ireland Executive faces tough economic decisions including the possibility of having to move resources ‘from less important areas’, Finance Minister Sammy Wilson has warned.

Mr Wilson, who has already announced budget cuts of £370m to Stormont departments in 2010, was addressing a business lunch hosted by Newry Chamber of Commerce and Trade on how the Northern Ireland Assembly could help the city’s economy.

He said he was committed to making sure the economy remained ‘the lead priority’ in the next Programme for Government.

“It is imperative that we invest in a manner that generates enduring and tangible economic returns — this is the bedrock for prosperity and wealth. In a tighter financial environment, we, as an Executive, need to take some difficult decisions about economic policy — which may mean moving resources from other, less important areas.

“That’s a real challenge for us as an Executive. Rest assured that I personally will do all I can to ensure that the economy remains firmly as number one priority.”

The Minister also mentioned lending for companies and Newry’s transport infrastructure, including the A1 upgrade and the feasibility report into the Newry southern relief road.

He said that despite the ‘extremely challenging time’ he believed Northern Ireland can be restored to economic prosperity.

“Newry is home to many of Northern Ireland’s finest and most successful companies. Despite the current economic climate, companies like First Derivatives, Horse First and FM Environmental are growing and exporting to new markets. I would encourage other firms to follow their lead as exports provide the key to our economic future.”

Belfast Telegraph