Judith Cochrane MLA said: “Alliance remains concerned that the DUP and Sinn Fein budget plans will do nothing to lay the groundwork for the radical reforms required to make our public finances more sustainable. With the power to vary Corporation Tax on the horizon, we need to invest in the skills and training that our economy will require, yet the DUP and Sinn Fein have instead prioritised spending on Health and Education.
“We know that our Health and Education Departments are inefficient, yet the protection they have been given reduces the incentive to cut waste. More money is spent on Education than in neighbouring jurisdictions, yet less is being spent directly on pupils due to our segregated system.
“Until our Executive is willing to make the difficult decisions around revenue raising and tackling the cost of division, we will be unable to see the level of economic growth that is needed to deliver more jobs and wealth for everyone in Northern Ireland.”
Commenting on the amendment from Jim Allister to cut the Equality Commission’s budget, Mrs Cochrane said that this type of approach could reduce the ability of agencies to hold the Executive to account.
Judith Cochrane MLA said: “Whether you agree or not with the Equality Commission’s recent actions, attempting to reduce their budget could undermine their important work on equality issues. You would effectively be sending a message to public bodies that if they speak out, they too could have their budget cut.
“This debate was about determining how much funding the Departments and outside bodies require to carry out their responsibilities, not about punishing them for what they have done.”