Dr Stephen Farry MLA stated: “This Budget is not an Alliance Budget. We have our own ideas, emphasis and priorities. An Alliance Budget would be more radical in terms of modernising public services and investing in the economy.
“That said, Alliance respects that we are part of a five-party Executive that has to agree a budget and Departmental allocations within a constrained and reduced set of resources. We respect the process that we are in while remaining committed to a programme of reform to make it work better. Failure to agree a budget would leave the Assembly and Executive in default of their legal obligations and see a bad budget imposed.
“It is a shame that other parties have not been similarly constructive and it is not sustainable for both the UUP and SDLP to remain in the Executive and be bound by the collective responsibility of the Ministerial Code if their parties are intent on opposing the Budget on the floor of the Assembly.
“Alliance has been working behind the scenes to make the draft Budget from December better. We acknowledge and concur with many of the very valid points made within the consultation process. Today, we now have some additional resources for Employment and Learning and increased reallocations for capital expenditure both of which give additional assistance to the economy and the construction sector too. Furthermore, we have for the first time an acknowledgement of and encouragement for Departments to begin to address the £1billion annual cost of division. We also welcome the endorsement of early intervention and prevention, and collaboration between Departments which should provide better services and greater efficiencies.
“We now have the potential for a more strategic approach which must be followed through over the next for four years. I welcome that the Budget Review Group will now be a standing sub-committee of the Executive.”