Stephen Farry MLA stated: “Adoption of the Executive’s draft budget is perhaps the most important decision to be taken by this Assembly. It is important that people have the opportunity to have their say and attempt to influence outcome.
“We are now less than a month away from the end of the so-called public consultation, and still a considerable number of Departmental Spending Plans remain outstanding with others just trickling out. Indeed only three out of twelve Departments were able to publish their plans within a timely manner.
“Already, the proper twelve week window for responses has been curtailed due to the political wrangling and delays within the Executive. There is a very tight timetable for the formal adoption of a Budget and the passage of the first Budget Bill before the start of the next financial year. Notions of extending this consultation period due to meet the slackness of certain Departments are fanciful.
“At present, there is simply insufficient information published, particularly in relation to the big spending departments such as health and education.
“There should be no room for excuses from Departments. They have known that a Budget was required for some considerable time, and should have been scenario planning ahead of the draft Budget being formally agreed.
“There is now no option other than for the remaining Ministers to publish their plans forthwith. Anything else is treating the people of Northern Ireland with contempt.”