31/01/2006

Minister highlights benefits of infrastructure investment

Investment in Northern Ireland’s infrastructure is essential in improving the international competitiveness in the local economy.

That was the message from Enterprise Minister, Angela Smith, who published the latest Quarterly Economic Review today.

The review indicates a positive outlook for the Northern Ireland economy and examines the importance of infrastructure, one of the key drivers of productivity growth.

Northern Ireland’s economic growth, while modest at 5.0% in 2004, was ahead of the UK growth rate of 4.6%.

The Northern Ireland labour market has continued to perform well. Employment is at record levels and Northern Ireland’s unemployment rate is below that of the UK.

Angela Smith said: “The Northern Ireland economy continues to perform well, however as outlined within the Economic Vision, there remain a number of challenges which need to be addressed if we are to deliver our economic objectives.

“The quality of infrastructure provision impacts on competitiveness and economic growth. Inadequate infrastructure can reduce productivity and increase costs which would affect existing firms and the region’s attractiveness as an investment location.”

Angela Smith continued: “Northern Ireland’s infrastructure is set to benefit from a £16bn investment programme over the next decade targeted at improving health, education, roads, public transport, water and sewerage.”

The Investment Strategy for Northern Ireland, (ISNI) was launched in December 2005 by the Strategic Investment Board and set out a ten year £16bn programme of infrastructure investment.

The Minister concluded: “This Quarterly Economic Review identifies where Northern Ireland’s infrastructure provision has improved since last year, particularly in the areas of airports and water although further improvements are still needed. The Review highlights the importance of the Investment Strategy for Northern Ireland in underpinning future economic performance.”

The review contains the latest statistics for the global, UK, RoI and NI economies and draws together a number of independent commentaries to provide a concise picture of the current economic climate.

(SP)

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