Busi­ness hits back over power vac­uum

Busi­ness lead­ers have called for ex­tra civil ser­vice pow­ers to lift the‘ hand brake’ on de­ci­sion mak­ing in ni. From con­struc­tion to man­u­fac­tur­ing and trans­port, here’ s what they had to say

Belfast Telegraph - Business Telegraph - - Front Page - BY STAFF RE­PORTER

THE Fed­er­a­tion of Small Busi­nesses (FSB) in North­ern Ire­land says the lack of an Ex­ec­u­tive at Stor­mont is not good for com­merce.

Tina Mcken­zie, FSB NI pol­icy chair, said she wanted to en­cour­age small busi­nesses to take on ap­pren­tices. “These aren’t dif­fi­cult things to do in govern­ment, but un­for­tu­nately we don’t have that,” she said. “The po­lit­i­cal in­sta­bil­ity isn’t good for the econ­omy and it’s only nat­u­ral that we have lost in­vest­ment be­cause of it.”

She spoke out as an al­liance of busi­ness groups called on the Sec­re­tary of State to em­power civil ser­vants to make de­ci­sions in the ab­sence of an Ex­ec­u­tive. Adrian Do­ran, of the Con­fed­er­a­tion of Bri­tish In­dus­try NI, said: “We must look for ways to re­move the cur­rent hand­brake on eco­nomic and so­cial progress.”

John Arm­strong, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of the Con­struc­tion Em­ploy­ers’ Fed­er­a­tion: “De­ci­sions need to be pri­ori­tised and a clear and ac­count­able way of tak­ing these de­ci­sions needs to be es­tab­lished. Our pref­er­ence is, of course, the es­tab­lish­ment of a North­ern Ire­land Ex­ec­u­tive.”

Brian Ir­win, chair of the North­ern Ire­land Food and Drink As­so­ci­a­tion: “The con­tin­ued lack of cer­tainty around de­ci­sion-mak­ing in North­ern Ire­land is not sus­tain­able and will in all like­li­hood re­sult in the loss of jobs if it is to con­tinue.

“In the ab­sence of a lo­cal Assem­bly or even ef­forts to re­sume talks, our mem­bers and the wider busi­ness com­mu­nity need cer­tainty to al­low some key strate­gic in­fra­struc­ture de­ci­sions to be made.

“The time is now for some lead­er­ship and cre­ative think­ing from the Sec­re­tary of State to move this is­sue for­ward, even if it means in­tro­duc­ing some tem­po­rary mea­sures like the ones we have sug­gested to­day.” our pre­ferred op­tion, our in­dus­try needs mis­sion crit­i­cal de­ci­sions taken now on is­sues such as busi­ness rates and the Ap­pren­tice­ship Levy.

“The cur­rent stale­mate is no longer an op­tion and fur­ther stag­na­tion only serves to make it harder to do busi­ness in NI.”

Glyn Roberts, Re­tail NI chief ex­ec­u­tive: “The cur­rent po­lit­i­cal limbo is noth­ing less than a to­tal dis­grace and we need to see new lead­er­ship, an end to the blame game and new talks be­gin­ning im­me­di­ately.

“Hav­ing no govern­ment for so long is mak­ing North­ern Ire­land an in­ter­na­tional laugh­ing stock and will im­pact on for­eign di­rect in­vest­ment. Devo­lu­tion should al­ways be the first choice for North­ern Ire­land.

“Fail­ing that we need a plan B with min­is­ters in place mak­ing the vi­tal de­ci­sions to move our econ­omy for­ward.” thing we as an In­dus­try nat­u­rally want. How­ever, be­cause of the cur­rent stale­mate at Stor­mont, what we hope will be for a short time pe­riod, we would like to see key de­ci­sion mak­ing around in­fra­struc­ture projects to be made by ap­pro­pri­ate se­nior civil ser­vants. This will en­sure projects that have been years in plan­ning, and ap­provals with al­lo­cated fund­ing, can pro­ceed with­out fur­ther de­lay.”

Colin Neill, chief ex­ec­u­tive, Hos­pi­tal­ity Ul­ster: “Hos­pi­tal­ity Ul­ster value our de­volved govern­ment struc­tures and the NI Assem­bly. How­ever, we sim­ply can­not con­tinue with the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion. Our mem­bers feel the real and tan­gi­ble costs of no govern­ment, which leaves us to op­er­ate with out­dated leg­is­la­tion as our com­peti­tors mod­ernise to meet the de­mands of a fast-chang­ing mar­ket. As hard-work­ing, law- abid­ing, tax pay­ing busi­nesses, our mem­bers de­serve the ba­sic right to have a work­ing govern­ment in place”. merce: “The void of po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship is hav­ing a se­ri­ous im­pact on the NI econ­omy and it ap­pears that key de­ci­sions on crit­i­cal is­sues can­not be taken by se­nior civil ser­vants.

“We need to re­store the lo­cal ex­ec­u­tive as a mat­ter of ur­gency, es­pe­cially given the un­prece­dented times we are in with Brexit and the gap in rep­re­sent­ing North­ern Ire­land at the ne­go­ti­at­ing ta­ble.”

Sinead Mclaugh­lin, chief ex­ec­u­tive, Lon­don­derry Cham­ber of Com­merce: “In the in­ter­est of sup­port­ing and de­vel­op­ing the econ­omy in North­ern Ire­land, it is im­por­tant that the cur­rent pol­icy paral­y­sis is over­come.

“The best way to make progress is for politi­cians to re­turn to their work as our elected leg­is­la­tors. How­ever, in the ab­sence of govern­ment, we must find in­no­va­tive so­lu­tions to en­sure we do not fur­ther dam­age our econ­omy by pre­vent­ing ma­jor projects from pro­gress­ing.” To­day’s call for ac­tion was made by CBI NI, Con­struc­tion Em­ploy­ers Fed­er­a­tion, NI Cham­ber of Com­merce and In­dus­try, Quarry Prod­ucts As­so­ci­a­tion NI, Man­u­fac­tur­ing NI, North­ern Ire­land Food & Drink As­so­ci­a­tion, Re­tail NI, NI Re­tail Con­sor­tium, Newry Cham­ber of Com­merce, Lon­don­derry Cham­ber of Com­merce, Hos­pi­tal­ity Ul­ster and the Freight Trans­port

Sea­mus Le­heny, NI pol­icy man­ager, Freight Trans­port As­so­ci­a­tion: “A func­tion­ing and ef­fec­tive lo­cal govern­ment is some-

Aod­han Con­nolly, di­rec­tor of the North­ern Ire­land Re­tail Con­sor­tium: “While a sit­ting Assem­bly is

Mary Mee­han, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Newry Cham­ber of Com-

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