10/06/2003

Dodds attacks Reinvestment and Reform Initiative

North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds has criticised the Government over an initiative that aims to secure quality public services and combat the current infrastructure deficit that exists in Northern Ireland.

During a House of Commons debate over the Reinvestment and Reform Initiative (RRI) yesterday, Finance Minister Ian Pearson outlined future plans and progress in the implementation of the initiative and claimed the RRI would solve long-standing problems in hospitals, roads, water and sewerage.

However, Mr Dodds said the Initiative was simply "a recipe for massive and uncontrollable Rate increases".

He added: "The price of the RRI to the Northern Ireland Ratepayer could be huge but the cost in accountability would also be huge. If devolution means anything it must mean people in Northern Ireland taking decisions which affect people here. This scheme runs directly contrary to that.

"There is a very real prospect that within ten years some Ratepayers could be paying three times as much as they currently are. People may not understand the details of government finance but do understand how they are likely to be affected. As things presently stand I do not believe that the RRI represents a good deal for Northern Ireland."

During yesterday's debate, the Minister also detailed various aspects of RRI designed to bring forward a long-term strategic approach to investing in Northern Ireland’s infrastructure to ensure a tangible improvement for its people through the delivery of better services in a range of essential areas.

However he warned that the current infrastructure deficit which exists in the province could not be solved by the public sector acting on its own.

"We need to ensure that the resources available to us are put to optimum use and maximum investment returns are obtained. However we are trying to achieve in years what until now would have taken a generation," he concluded.

(MB)

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