Stephen Farry stated: “Mike Smyth is quite right in making his criticisms of a lack of pro-active response to the economic recession and their unwillingness to review the Programme for Government and the Budget.
“It is no good the Executive stressing that they have already prioritised the economy in those documents. The key issue is whether or not they have prioritised the right aspects of the economy. The quarterly budgetary monitoring rounds are not flexible enough to deal with new challenges. They are governed by what resources ministers are prepared to surrender back into the central pot. There is no root and branch review of all policies and practices.
“I would go further that Mike Smyth in one respect. The structural weaknesses of the Northern Ireland economy before the recession have been well documented, including an over-reliance on the public sector, trying to compete on the basis of low costs, and our large carbon footprint.
“Northern Ireland has access to considerable resources as part of the UK fiscal stimulus. Our Executive has focused all of their attention on addressing the cost pressures being faced by businesses and households. While this is important, they have squandered the window of opportunity from increased spending to invest in addressing structural weaknesses, modernising and re-balancing the economy. The result will be that Northern Ireland is not as well placed to take full advantage of the economic recovery, and our underlying economic weaknesses may be perpetuated.”