30 October 2003 Edition

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Economy: DUP strong on rhetoric weak on responsibility

Sinn Féin Finance spokesperson, Mid Ulster Assembly candidate Cllr Francie Molloy has hit back at DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson's accusations that the main political parties are 'fiscally irresponsible'.

"The DUP are strong on rhetoric, yet when it comes to the issue of responsibility the DUP consistently abdicate any responsibility in building a just and lasting peace or how we tackle the legacy of under investment that affects all of our public services," said Molloy.

"The DUP live in a fantasy world where they believe that undermining the All-Ireland architecture will generate the resources required to meet the infrastructure deficit. In the real world, we need to have fiscal control. If a comparison is made between the expenditure of the All-Ireland architecture and its benefits and expenditure on the British war machine the numbers will show a real peace dividend could generate hundreds and millions of pounds.

"The DUP fail to address the issue of a peace dividend and the need for the British government to transfer expenditure on the British war machine to rebuilding a society emerging from conflict that could generate somewhere in the region of £800 million to £1 billion. The British government are no doubt delighted that they managed to con people into the Reform and Reinvestment Initiative while not coming under any pressure to put the money spent on maintaining the British war machine to more productive use.

"If we investigate the DUP controlled Castlereagh Borough Council we see cutbacks leading to the withdrawal of services and the closure of the Peter Robinson leisure centre, among others. Castlereagh council is facing serious financial difficulties so it's hardly an advert of financial responsibility or perhaps it is a monument to politically motivated 'fiscal irresponsibility'.

"The Executive needs the power to target resources and investment to those areas and people most disadvantaged. There is inequality and poverty in our society, and both must be eradicated if we are to build on the promise of the peace process and the Good Friday Agreement.

"Unless the people running the DUP are complete morons I fail to understand how they could have missed the fact that the money in people's pockets is already being assailed from all directions. Unless we build the political momentum to stop it, they will also have to dig deep to pay for the imposition of water charges and massive rates increases to meet the demands of the Reform and Reinvestment Initiative.

"The reason why decent hard working people here are being put in this position is that being tied to the British Exchequer requires us to mirror a British government obsession with indirect taxation, double taxation, back door taxation or whatever you want to call it.

"This means that we will have more taxes that are not linked to either what people earn or their ability to pay. This means that people on low and medium incomes are being forced to pay a significantly higher proportion of their disposable income and are consequentially poorer as a result.

"Greater economic sovereignty would put a local Executive in a powerful position. It would enable them to roll back these unfair forms of indirect taxation. The DUP deride the use of targeted tax breaks as a vital tool to support employment and sustain and develop the strength of the local economy yet such mechanisms have been shown to be effective in many places throughout the world."

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