Stephen Farry MLA said: “Forward planning for any budget is vital, especially at times of real pressure. The notion from Sinn Fein that preparation is defeatism is totally counter productive. There is a need for a unity of purpose within the Executive.
“The call from the First Minister for preparation is welcome but it does ring somewhat hollow given that the DUP have a history of populism and recently buried a finance options paper from the Finance Minister Sammy Wilson
“While the final shape of the Block Grant may not be available until the 20th October, Departments can and should plan for various scenarios.
“This is critical for two reasons. First, advanced planning will maximise the potential for efficiency and maximise the resources available for frontline public services and to rebalance the economy.
“Second, the Assembly will need to have agreed the final budget for the 2011-12 financial year by February 2011. There needs to be a proper public consultation exercise on this. If there is significant delay between the UK Comprehensive Spending Review on 20th October and the Executive finalising and producing a draft budget, the process will lose vital important input.”