Stephen Farry MLA stated: “The £60m EU Disallowance over DARD of Single Farm Payments is a body-blow to Northern Ireland’s public finances, with the threat of a further £40m fine now looming. This has implications for our public services and developing our economy.
“It is disingenuous for the Agriculture Minister to argue that these fines have no impact on the public purse as the financial pressures have been swept up through underspends in her Department and others. She does not grasp the concept of opportunity cost.
“There should not be underspends of this scale within DARD to begin with. This indicates poor financial planning. But more broadly, the monies that have been used to address the fines could have been surrendered to the centre and redistributed for investment in the health service, education system and economic development. Furthermore, there are current financial pressures in fixing systems and in covering any future disallowances that have to be covered at the expense of other investments.
“I continue to have concerns that the Minister and the Department are downplaying the significance of what has gone wrong and the implications for Northern Ireland.”