Dr Stephen Farry MLA stated: “The announcement by the Scottish Executive by a draft Budget is a stark reminder of how Northern Ireland is falling behind in the preparation of its own financial plans in the wake of the Comprehensive Spending Review.
“Northern Ireland and Scotland are in analogous positions as devolved regions receiving allocations from the Treasury in Block Grants.
“Even with a budget published today, the Executive would struggle to meet a timetable that would provide for proper public consultation and proper scrutiny by the Assembly. Cutting corners is dubious at the best of times, but is dangerous when such momentous decisions are required.
“Executive agreement will be better late than never. But if we are to have a draft budget published in early January, there will be an almighty rush to have the formal budget resolution adopted by the Assembly and the first Budget Bill to legally authorise expenditure all passed before this Assembly ends in late March.
“Alliance has published its own proposals for the budget entitled ‘Shared Solutions’. We understand the urgency of early and robust decisions. Forward planning will maximise the prospects of joined-up government and a more strategic approach. Budget brinkmanship runs the risk of a botched job.”