Green MLA says SMEs and public works program will stimulate economy

Green MLA Steven Agnew has called on the Executive to invest in a program of public works and additional support for small to medium sized businesses to help stimulate the local economy.

“Following the revelation that Invest NI is going to hand back tens of millions of pounds to the Executive that it can’t use and large Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) also can’t use the money due to a suspension in capital build, we now need to focus on supporting SMEs and programs of public works to rebuild or economy,” Mr Agnew said.

“Invest NI and the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment literally can’t give their money away because legally they can only provide 50 per cent funding that must be matched by the business.

“Due the financial crisis, banks are not lending businesses money so they can’t get match funding.

“This leaves our investment programs in a state of limbo if we are prepared to sit back and have our fiscal policies dictated by the free market economy.

“However, the 60,000 people who are currently unemployed in Northern Ireland can’t afford to sit around and wait for the private sector to pick up – especially since recent government warnings have suggested that the recession will last for at least a decade.

“The Tory government continue to perpetuate the myth that if we cut the public sector then the private sector will expand to fill the employment gap by creating jobs.

“Last month’s figures clearly indicated that the private sector actually contracted and looks set to contract even further proving that the Tories have it got it wrong on this and unemployment will spiral without intervention.

“History has taught us that austerity is not the best way to tackle recession and therefore The Green Party believes that we should engaging in public works to stimulate the job market and our economy while at the same time creating a better society.

“We should be investing in building schools, the Green New Deal and improving the public transport infrastructure while at the same time helping local businesses get set up, expand and develop.

“What money we do have we need to invest wisely and we simply cannot afford to sit around and do nothing or hope that our financial salvation will come for foreign investment.”

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