Dr Stephen Farry stated: “There are some positive measures in the Executive’s package, but they have also followed the Brownite tendency of re-announcing many existing measures. Alliance’s greatest concern lies in what was not said. Critical opportunities are being missed not only to manage Northern Ireland through the downturn, but to position the region to take full advantage of the inevitable recovery.
“Northern Ireland will benefit from actions at a global level and the national monetary and fiscal stimuli. But our Executive can play an important role in how it deploys its own spending power.
“Alliance would give priority to accelerating investment in Northern Ireland’s infrastructure, including social housing, energy efficiency and economic assets. In particular, there can be major opportunities in developing a green economy.
“Wise investments today can provide major benefits in the future. Too many of the measures are short-term in nature and do little to modernise and re-balance the economy.
“The £150 fuel credit could provide some quick relief to pensioners, but this winter is already well under way and there will be a time-lag before even this can be delivered. The Executive could have acted on fuel poverty last September. The investment of a similar level of resources in insulation and other energy efficiency measures would provide longer term assistance, not just for this Christmas, but for many more to come.
“An existing budget based on populism rather than prudence has left scope for additional spending. As budgetary assumptions are blown off course both by external factors but also internal decisions, the Executive have little choice but to balance the books. The pro rata levels of accelerated investment here compare poorly to the actions of neighbouring jurisdictions.”