Ford: Deep concerns over budget continue

Alliance Leader David Ford has said his Party wants the formal budget process to continue, despite major concerns remaining over the sustainability of the draft document.

The Alliance Leader was speaking after he, along with DEL Minister Stephen Farry, abstained on a vote to accept the Finance Minister’s final budget at a special Executive meeting on Thursday.

David Ford MLA said: “Northern Ireland should never have been in this position. The on-going mis-management of funds and the failure of political leaders to make the tough decisions needed to stabilise the economy has left us in the deepest financial crisis in years.

“This hap-hazard, irresponsible governing has been allowed to continue for too long and I’m not yet convinced this budget – filled with many unanswered questions – doesn’t only serve to deepen our long-term financial problems.

“However, Alliance does recognise the importance of securing a draft budget for the Treasury and the need for others to engage in the consultation process. We won’t stand in the way of this. This has never been about simply striking a deal, but ensuring we have a strategic and sustainable budget in place to strengthen Northern Ireland.

“We are not yet satisfied we have been presented with a budget that is either strategic or sustainable. We are prepared to take difficult decisions around revenue raising – including a phased system for the introduction of water charges – but other parties in the Executive are unwilling to do so.”

“Alliance is not blocking the proposals presented and recognises that some progress has been made. But unlike other Ministers we don’t make decisions based on what is best for our own departments, rather we want to see a long-term strategic plan in place designed to deliver the right solutions for everyone in Northern Ireland. Over the coming weeks we will continue to fight to ensure this is delivered.”

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