NI Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Cathal Geoghegan has made a wide ranging New Year statement, calling on all sides of the political debate to get together to ensure that public services in Northern Ireland are transformed, there is a focus on green growth as well as prioritising economic prosperity for all. As with all of us he wants to see 2024 being the year when real progress is made.
Driving Our Competitiveness To The Next Level
Here are some excerpts from his statement, as copied from an article by Gary McDonald in the Irish News. He is quoted as saying:
“While it is a source of significant regret that we begin another new year without an Executive, businesses remain hopeful that the coming weeks will see the devolved institutions restored.
“These weeks are crucial because getting this right is a prize that could drive our competitiveness on this island, as a region of the UK and on the global stage, to the next level.
Upon restoration of the institutions, we expect to see an agreed Programme for Government at the earliest opportunity which delivers investment in our future; in skills and education, innovation, infrastructure and green growth.”
He went on to talk about the fiscal challenges ahead, saying:
“With so many competing priorities and demands, managing the public finances and addressing public sector pay will be the greatest immediate challenges an incoming power-sharing Executive will face.
“We welcome that the UK government has accepted the principle of a needs-based funding model for Northern Ireland. But when it comes to meeting the substantial costs of stabilisation and transformation, it is imperative that the approach takes into consideration all of the fiscal levers available to Northern Ireland.
“We are clear that the transformation of public services demands action and leadership from an Executive and we agree that effective accountability structures need to be put in place.”
Mr Geoghegan added: “The challenge demands that other forms of fiscal freedoms and incentives are included, such as the structure of some arms-length organisations, the ability to borrow and other fiscal policies to support growth.
“We also consider that a short, sharp independent assessment of the efficiency and effectiveness of public services is vital. That must be the starting point if we are to comprehensively identify precisely where wastage, ineffectiveness and inefficiency exists in the current system and what kind of transformation would lead to the most significant cost savings and tangibly better outcomes.”
Exports Could Be Crucial In Future Growth
He believes that exports can play a big future part in economic growth, saying:
“Encouraging firms to realise their export potential and grow internationally is central to the creation of a 10X Economy. Dual market access provides NI businesses with a distinct competitive advantage, as a trading gateway to the EU and Great Britain. We must make a concerted effort to capitalise on that position in high-growth sectors such as health and life science and advanced manufacturing. That’s very pertinent as we work towards the next implementation phase of the Windsor Framework arrangements in October 2024, when clear guidance and process efficiency will be important.”