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Retail chief calls for cull in unnecessary quangos

A call has been made to the main business organisations to produce an economic manifesto ahead of next year’s Assembly elections.

Speaking at the Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade (NIIRTA) Summer Reception, its chief executive Glyn Roberts said such a powerful document would allow the business community to “speak with one voice, and exercise real influence over the party manifestos and of course the new Executive Programme For Government”.

More than 100 delegates attended the event in Malone House, where Mr Roberts urged greater protection for economic and town centre regeneration funding to support the growth of the private sector.

Mr Roberts said: “This October could see our local government departments facing cuts of around £1bn in the next four years. This will be the toughest hurdle our five-party Executive has faced since its formation.”

“It is absolutely essential that front-line public services are protected as far as possible, but we also need to ensure that new spending priorities are economy proofed and can provide the widest possible support to a sustainable recovery in our private sector.”

“It is not government that will take us out of recession, it is business, and in particular a strong and vibrant small business sector which will lead the way towards recovery.

“The UK coalition Government has rightly sat down and drawn a hit-list of those quangos which it regards as non-essential. Our Executive has no choice but to do the same. They must look at every quango and ask the question: “Is this body really essential for the people of Northern Ireland?”

“Recessions can be the catalyst for radical economic change, and I believe if the Executive is sensible about the cuts and provides a new enabling environment which will grow our private sector, then Northern Ireland could emerge from this recession even stronger.”

Richard Ramsey, Ulster Bank chief economist, said: “Whenever a recovery does take place, one thing is certain — all stakeholders, public and private, will need to have a hand in it.”