Stephen Farry MLA said: “There is no doubt that Northern Ireland is facing some major financial pressures over the coming years, with severe pressures on public services and limits on the capacity to transform the economy looming.
“Yet, in placing emphasis on trying to secure more borrowing powers, incoming Finance Minister, Mairtin O’Muilleoir is placing initial emphasis in the wrong place.
“The starting point for any serious and strategic consideration of public finances must be reform. Already, there are major distortions in our finances from attempts to manage a divided society through the unnecessary duplication of public services. There are also higher cost implications arising from the failure of the successive Executives to address sectarianism and segregation. There are other savings to be found from significant reform to major public services, including health and education.
“Piling on more and more debt without a plan to make the public finances more sustainable simply makes the problem worse. In turn, a clear programme of reform would make the case for additional borrowing more credible. Indeed, the funding of the specific reforms to transition to a more sustainable financial situation would be a worthwhile basis for additional borrowing.”