Simon Hamilton responds to Sammy Gardner’s Presser of this morning… (is there an election campaign in the offing, or something? – ed)
…an economic downturn that is genuinely global in nature is certainly posing problems for every country in the world and in particular small, open, regional economies like our own. We should most definitely seek to encourage our own indigenous firms to both survive and seek new opportunities during the downturn. But to turn our face entirely upon inward investment would be an utterly regressive and completely counter-productive.
Thriving economies are built upon a blend of inward investment and indigenous companies not the sort of insular, ourselves alone approach of the UCUNF. Furthermore, whenever the recession ends, Northern Ireland will want to be well placed to win investments from foreign companies. Who will they put their faith in? Economies that were there during the bad times or the sort of fair weather friends that UCUNF would have us be?
He cites the example of Dell pulling out of Ireland as an example as to why, in his view, chasing US inward investment is foolish at a time when he believes America is trying to repatriate jobs. In reality, Dell moved its Irish jobs to Poland. When did Poland become the 51st state? Just this past week, Dell closed its manufacturing operation in Austin, Texas, making another nonsense of Mr Gardiners claims.
Mr Gardiner also ignores the fact that since the agreement of the Programme for Government which he and his Party voted in favour of, Northern Ireland has attracted nearly 1,800 new FDI jobs. Even in these troubling economic times, we have been able to highlight Northern Irelands many advantages to new investors.
In calling for a recasting of the Programme for Government and Budget, I would pose the question to Mr Gardiner, what priority would he wish to see given to economic growth rather than the number one priority it enjoys at present. As UCUNF try to talk down Northern Irelands economy at a time when we should all be trying to talk up our many positives, the DUP will continue to focus upon investing record levels of around £1.5 billion into our infrastructure and assisting businesses with rate freezes and rate reliefs.