Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon has met key business organisations to discuss the Programme for Government (PfG) draft Outcomes Framework and the draft 2021/22 Budget.
Speaking following the meeting, Minister Mallon said: “Around the virtual table we shared the view that modern, sustainable infrastructure is a key building block of prosperity, not only in our recovery from Covid-19, but it is also essential if we are to grow our economy, address regional imbalance, improve wellbeing and support a thriving island where people want to live, work, visit and invest.
“The consultations on the Programme for Government draft Outcomes Framework and on the draft 2021/22 Budget are a critical opportunity for the Executive to identify the kind of society we all want to live in and improve the lives of people in Northern Ireland by allocating resources to high priority areas in order to improve outcomes for citizens.”
The Minister emphasised the importance of genuine partnership working to deliver a meaningful Programme for Government. She said: “Government can’t work in isolation to solve the wide ranging and long-term issues that we face as a society. We need to work with citizens, organisations and representatives and use their knowledge and expertise to develop a Programme for Government that benefits everyone.”
Commenting on the draft budget, the Minister said: “While I welcome the significant increase in the draft capital allocation, the draft resource budget outcome proposed to be allocated to my Department is extremely challenging and if further funding is not secured we will face a really difficult year ahead. It will be difficult to deliver a capital programme of this scale without an increase to the resource budget. These are the choices that need to be made now and after years of underinvestment in our infrastructure, if we are going to do things right and see the critical investment our society needs, we need to get the right building blocks in place and that means getting our infrastructure right. I am making the case for an enhanced resource budget to ensure that the delivery of vital public services, on which our citizens depend, is not impeded and I will work across government and wider society to ensure the importance of this crucial funding is understood.
“It is clear from our meeting that within the business community, it is understood that to build more houses, to provide employment , to make our towns and cities more attractive and inclusive places to be, investment in infrastructure is critical. We have an opportunity to deliver a budget and a programme for government that is focused on seizing our chance for change not simply standing still.”