26/01/2007

Minister unveils plan to transform NI economy

The Finance Minister David Hanson has today launched the Northern Ireland Regional Economic Strategy for public consultation.

This sets out the Government’s commitment to focus resources on four key areas that will help deliver the 2015 Economic Vision to transform Northern Ireland into a high value-added, highly skilled, innovative and enterprising economy.

Commenting on the strategy, Mr Hanson said: “The Government’s central economic aim is to sustain high and stable levels of economic and employment growth to secure prosperity for all the people of Northern Ireland. This Regional Economic Strategy sets out the Government’s economic priorities that will help achieve the Economic Vision to become a high value-added, highly skilled, innovative and enterprising economy by 2015.

“This report analyses the current position of the Northern Ireland economy and its positioning in an increasingly competitive global economy. The report identifies four key policy drivers that should be the focus of future economic development. The four areas are infrastructure, enterprise, skills, and innovation and R&D.”

Mr Hanson continued: “The Regional Economic Strategy also sets out interventions to tackle economic inactivity and improve the employment rate. It also acknowledges that closer economic co-operation with the Republic of Ireland can deliver mutual benefits, which will help the local economy progress further.

“It is clear that significant reform is needed in Northern Ireland to deliver the Economic Vision. The Review of Public Administration and the Civil Service Reform Agenda will deliver a radically different and more efficient public sector interface.”

The Minister also said that delivering the Economic Vision is not something the government can do in isolation and added that the private sector also has a crucial role to play as well.

Mr Hanson added: “The private sector must become more innovative and outward-looking and there needs to be greater linkages with the universities to encourage and exploit commercial research and development opportunities. Equally, there needs to be greater communication between business and the education sector to facilitate the improvement in the skills of our workforce.

“The Regional Economic Strategy contains actions for both the public and private sectors and is intended to inspire both sectors to contribute towards achieving the 2015 Economic Vision.”

The consultation period will continue until April 20 2007.

(EF)

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