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18 September 2008 Edition

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McGuinness brings forward proposals

PROPOSALS: Martin McGuinness

PROPOSALS: Martin McGuinness

THE North’s deputy First Minister, Sinn  Féin’s Martin McGuinness, has written to the First Minister Peter Robinson outlining a number of proposals aimed at tackling the growing burden on households arising from rises in the cost of fuel prices, electricity and gas.
McGuinness is seeking the agreement of all Ministers for the proposals in advance of the meeting with the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Tuesday.
McGuinness said:
“The impact of the global economic downturn and with it the rises in costs of food, fuel, electricity and gas on ordinary households and businesses is an issue which requires the attention of all Ministers.
“I have today written to the First Minister Peter Robinson outlining a series of measures which I believe can help ease this burden. While I recognise that the economic crisis is global and outside our control, particularly given the very limited resources and absence of fiscal powers available to us, I feel that we must bring forward a package of measures which would bring immediate and meaningful relief to those affected most by the current situation.
“I am seeking agreement from all Ministerial colleagues on these proposals in advance of Tuesday’s meeting with the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown.”

The proposals put forward by Mr McGuinness include:
•    The indefinite deferral of domestic contributions towards water and sewerage services.
•    The establishment of an emergency fund to address fuel poverty.
•    Making the redirection of departmental spending efficiencies and unspent money across all Departments a priority of the September Monitoring Round.
•    The establishment of a Ministerial sub-group on anti-poverty.
•    The initiation of a benefits entitlements uptake campaign.
•    Completion of the joint DARD/DSD Warm Homes Scheme.
•    Commissioning a bulk buying scheme for oil.
•    Piloting renewable energy schemes in government buildings.
•    Establishment of a Special Relief Scheme.
•    Convening roundtable meetings with the social partners.
•    Development of joint initiatives with the Irish Government.
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