Finance Minister gives first major speech to local business leaders

The CBI hosted a breakfast for more than 100 local business leaders this morning (Thursday 1 August 2013) with the Executive’s new Finance Minister, Simon Hamilton. The event was supported by Tughans Solicitors and held at the Merchant Hotel, Belfast.

Welcoming Minister Hamilton to office, CBI Northern Ireland’s chairman Ian Coulter, said there were a number of key issues that needed his address:

The NI Executive needs to prioritise capital expenditure and ensure there is sufficient risk capital available in Northern Ireland. Within tight financial constraints it is critical that we secure delivery on the efficiency and reform agenda – we need to open up public sector markets to more competition and deliver a more strategic approach to efficiency savings.

He further added:

We also need to ensure the campaign on devolution of corporation tax moves ahead and any outstanding issues are resolved over the coming months. As chair of the Procurement Board, the Minister must ensure that public procurement is world class – in engaging with the market, commissioning, procuring and in contract management. Ensuring greater visibility in capital projects and having more ‘shovel-ready’ projects should be a top priority.

Speaking at this morning’s event and setting his aims out for the future, the new Finance Minister, Simon Hamilton said:

Whilst the widespread predictions of public spending doom and gloom haven’t materialised, the public expenditure landscape has been altered and the prospect of tightening budgets up to 2018 and possibly beyond still exists.

This coupled with the ever increasing expectations of an understandably demanding public; it is clear that tough times lie ahead. Meeting those demands with even fewer resources will be the underlying context of my time in DFP.

The people of Northern Ireland won’t accept, and nor do they deserve, less with less. They deserve more with less. That’s all very easy to say but far harder to deliver.

The answer lies in the relentless pursuit of one aim – reform. Northern Ireland needs a Department that drives reform and innovation and change across the whole of government and, in my view, no Department is better placed to do that than DFP.

To assist me in meeting this objective, I can today announce the creation of a Public Sector Reform Division within the Department. This Division will work with the other Executive departments to assist them in making the reforms they require a reality. It will seek to stimulate innovation in service delivery, and it will gather and disseminate best practice in public expenditure, shared services and digital delivery, amongst other things. I see DFP helping others in the Executive to get the big and difficult things done.

Concluding the Minister said:

DFP as the driver of reform; as the catalyst of change; and as the enabler of innovation – that is my agenda for my time in office.

For more information please contact Anthea Savage, Communications & Events Executive, CBI Northern Ireland.

T: 028 9010 1117

Finance Minister gives first major speech to local business leaders

August 1, 2013

12:00 am