Don’t hold your breath waiting for economic reform

So is there any prospect of the Executive actually taking action on the recommendations of Richard Barnett’s review of economic policy? You would think they ought to manage at least to create a single department of the Economy as this appears to involve only a realignment of responsibilities and not – horrors! -the disappearance of any actual department. Barnett diplomatically makes the familiar case against the risk averse strategy of Invest NI that should have been replaced years ago when seed-corn money was more available. Where will the pressure come from to get change going? Not as a result of the lazy BBC which in keeping with its dismal record of economic reporting recently gave a po-faced account of the Report, leaving it the Bel Tel and to some extent the Irish Times to reflect what seems to have been a far more critical briefing than the Report itself. And what will be the response of NI business? Chiming agreement with Barnett in public but behind the scenes, quaking at the knees, that that a neat piece of public finance feather bedding may be set to disappear, along with EU regional aid? When are we ever going to get real strategic debate about the future? Even Barnett ducked it as his brief was limited, though he was clearly itching to go further and pull the whole cosy show apart. A sign of that was Barnett’s wish to scrap the new Economics Forum and replace it with a smaller leaner advisory group. That’s his verdict on the quality of business debate.

  • Seamus Friel

    Richard Barnett obviously has too much time on his hands – overseeing the £250 million plan to move the UU from Jordanstown to Belfast ( totally unnecessary according to his predecessor but well on its way ) and styming any real development of Magee Campus in Derry,( with a 25 year airy fairy, never never plan to keep the Derry politicians happy which they swallowed) doesn’t keep him busy enough. He has to sort out INI also.
    Always the same old heads on all these boards and quangoes!!!!

  • frustrated democrat

    I was somewhat disappointed to turn up at the launch to be given a press release embargoed for 10:30 but broadcast on the morning news, an executive summary and a CD of the full report.

    Richard Barnett spent an hour going over the content of the executive summary then left, no questions, no discussion.

    Why did I waste a morning attending a launch when a email of the executive summary would have been just as useful?

    Why did he not take questions?

    Turning to the review itself my first reaction is that it is proposing moves in the right direction, but I suspect InvestNI will not get the freedom it needs, it will still have 600 employees in 12 months time, it will still be attracting low paid jobs, it will still be giving grants against jobs. In other words the NI executive will decide on nothing as usual.

    I wish Alastair Hamilton well and congratulate him for wanting change, will the civil service house train him or will he break them, time will tell.