Pearson unveils two year NI budget plans

Finance Minister, Ian Pearson has unveiled details of the Government’s plans for a significant boost to investment in public services over the next two years.

Mr Pearson revealed that total spending on services will rise by nearly 14% over the next two years, with an increase of 7.9% next year and 5.3% in 2005-06, bringing the total to over £8 billion.

Within that planned expenditure capital investment will rise by around 42% from £750m in 2003-04 to over £1 billion in 2005-06.

Commenting on the responses received to his draft proposals published in October, the Minister said: "One theme which emerged strongly from the consultation, and in my discussions with the political parties, was concerns about the size of bureaucracy in Northern Ireland and the need to deliver services more efficiently. The urgent need for further investment in Northern Ireland’s infrastructure, beyond what has already been planned, was also emphasised.

"The Budget I am announcing for the next two years therefore takes a tougher line on the costs of public sector administration, and provides more money for investment in our infrastructure than was proposed in the Draft Budget in October."

Referring to the Strategic Investment Programme launched last February, the Minister also provided updated details of the projects contained within the Programme. These now exceed £2.7 billion in value and touch upon all the key priorities for capital investment in Northern Ireland.

To help sustain this major investment programme, the Minister confirmed that there would be increases of 8.8% on the Domestic Regional Rate and 3.3% on the Non-Domestic Rate next year. Assuming that District Councils increase their domestic rates by around 6% next year, this will mean an increase of around £35 per year in the average domestic rates bill – or less than 70p a week.


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