Ulster Unionist MLA Philip Smith has accused the Stormont Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir of adding to the uncertainty surrounding the potential impact of Brexit on Northern Ireland, by his comments suggesting that a one-year revenue plan would be preferable to the current plan for a three-year budget.
Philip Smith, who is his Party’s Finance spokesperson, said:
“Weekend comments by the Finance Minister are adding to economic uncertainty.
“His suggestion that he would like to produce a one-year plan for all day-to-spending in 2017/18 rather that proceed with a multi-year budget because of uncertainty around UK public spending after the Brexit vote are, extremely unhelpful.
“Northern Ireland is the region of the UK which has been identified as being most impacted by and least prepared for Brexit. Business leaders are crying out for leadership, stability and certainty, yet here we have the Finance Minister making a difficult situation even worse. This will do nothing to help our economy, our GDP and the wealth of our citizens.
“This is yet another example of the Executive’s priorities being restrained by an all too obvious lack of strategy or coherent plan and ambition at the top. It is also indicative of Sinn Fein’s ongoing ineptitude when it comes to finance and highlights how they are totally unsuited to do the job the DUP rewarded them with. The Health Service is crying out for financial certainty and this suggestion from the Finance Minister will only exacerbate existing problems.
“The reality is that Brexit will not happen for more than two and a half years. He should proceed on the basis that there will be continued funding from the EU until the Brexit process is completed and continue to press Westminster to make up any future shortfall. By his knee-jerk reaction in suggesting a one year plan, he is in effect letting Westminster off the hook.”