Stephen Farry stated: “This is a sobering report for everyone involved in the Northern Ireland economy. We are at risk not only of a slower economic recovery here but also potentially a so-called ‘double-dip recession’ whereby Northern Ireland is dragged back into recession.
“In the past, the public sector has provided a cushion for us during difficult times, but in a much more difficult public expenditure climate it becomes a major weakness.
“For policy-makers, there is a very clear message that more needs to be done to assist our economy. In particular, the Executive needs to move away from its cheap populism and to reinvest resources in the economy. Our Executive has not taken the bold initiatives that have characterised the fiscal stimuli in other jurisdictions.
“It is also clear that it is not simply enough for the Executive to address the cost challenges being faced by businesses, as worthy as that may be. This approach means that Northern Ireland will eventually move from recession with the same structural problems in place.
“The central challenge is restructure and rebalance the local economy. This means tackling the level of public sector dependency, it means promoting the ‘green economy’ and it means tackling the costs and implications of a divided society.”