Angela McGowan: NI politicians should be ‘more honest’ about budget cuts

Posted By: January 05, 2015

Danske Bank’s chief economist Angela McGowan said Northern Ireland could not continue to “rely on handouts” from Westminster


Northern Ireland’s politicians should be more honest about the impact budget cuts will have on public services, Danske Bank’s chief economist has said.
Angela McGowan told BBC Radio Ulster’s Inside Business programme there was no fiscal strategy in place to deal with austerity measures.

“The politicians continually shy away from decisions that need to be made,” she said. “It’s being disingenuous to tell us public services will not be impacted.”
Many government departments are facing spending cuts outlined in the 2015/16 draft budget, which was agreed in October.

The grant Northern Ireland gets from Westminster has been cut by 1.6% and some Stormont departments will have to make savings of up to 11%.
Ms McGowan said the economy was at a “bit of a crossroads” and said Northern Ireland could not continue to “rely on handouts” from Westminster.

“Perhaps they’d be more successful in getting around Treasury if they were more upfront and honest about having to introduce revenue streams such as prescription charges and rate revenues,” she added.
“There’s no economy in the world can grow and provide public services with air, you know, it’s mickey mouse economics.”

Ms McGowan also said Northern Ireland’s leaders had a “choice to make about which way this economy is going to move”.

She said: “Unless we get the same kind of stimulus George Osborne so readily gave to the north of England (in the Autumn Statement), but didn’t look at Northern Ireland for – unless we start to get our act together and insist on those sort of stimulus coming our way – I think we’ll find it quite difficult to move forward.”

Inside Business is on BBC Radio Ulster at 13:30 GMT on Sunday.