Stephen Farry said: “Alliance welcomes and endorses this draft Budget. While the document is out for consultation and is eligible for change, we now have a roadmap for the next few years.
“There should no euphoria regarding this draft Budget. It is late, and some painful and challenging times lie ahead. But it is a relief that there is now some stability and certainty on the road ahead.
“This is not an Alliance Budget. As a single party, we would have done things differently and more radically. Rather it reflects a collective partnership approach within the Executive which Alliance respects.
“While a four year budget will be agreed, it is important to stress that it does not preclude further efficiencies being found in areas such as tackling the costs of a divided society and addressing north-south economies of scale. Similarly, further revenue raising can be considered.
“There will also be events, changed economic and financial circumstances, and new opportunities, including perhaps the chance to fund a lower rate of corporation tax.
“Alliance does welcome the potential for the Executive to fund a Green New Deal Housing Initiative. Through a public-private partnership, there is the potential to address problems of energy efficiency and fuel poverty in Northern Ireland, as well as providing readily accessible work for the construction sector which has suffered particularly hard from the recession. I am glad that the Executive has finally agreed to act in this area. Alliance has campaigned on this issue for a long time and recently proposed a motion on this that was accepted by the Assembly. We also welcome the decision to give funding for the Desertcreat training college for police and fire services.
“Alliance still has questions regarding the precise balance between revenue-raising and spending reductions, the level of resources that will continue to be available to rebalancing our economy such as investing in skills, and the minimal rebalancing between current and capital budgets that is recommended.
“We will also seek to challenge any continued populism in the proposals. We have to be honest and realistic in what we do and ensure that resources are properly invested in our economic future and modernizing our public services.
“The eight-week consultation which now begins is an important opportunity for the people of Northern Ireland to have their say and to influence the final decisions to be taken.”