Farry welcomes strategy but warns of difficulties ahead

Alliance Economy spokesperson Stephen Farry MLA has said a number of challenges could stop a successful implementation of the Executive’s draft Industrial Strategy.

Dr Farry said while he recognised the strength and ambition of many aspects of the document, other problems still existed.

“It is beneficial the Minister has managed to publish this strategy ahead of dissolution of the Assembly. Such a strategy should be an integral part of a suite of documents, including a Programme for Government and a Budget, and allows for existing and new policies and programmes to be efficiently and effectively aligned to achieve economic growth and prosperity.

“There is much in this document that is worthy. However, there are a number of significant challenges. First, it is unclear whether there will be a devolved Executive in place in the near future to take this proposed strategy forward. Second, Northern Ireland is facing huge economic uncertainty from Brexit, especially in terms of our future relationship with the EU Single Market and the Customs Union, and the ongoing effectiveness of a reduced rate of Corporation Tax.

“Yet, the document does not adequately identify or address this risk. In addition, there has been an increased budgetary pressure on the resources required to transform our skills and infrastructure landscape. In particular, there is a major structural funding gap in terms of higher education and funding pressures in further education. In what may become an even more acute financial situation, it is incumbent on this Minister and his successors to fight for sufficient investment to deliver on the objectives of the strategy.”

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