Fact-checking Sinn Féin’s economic proposals for Northern Ireland

While John wants alternatives, let’s have a closer look at what Sinn Féin’s ‘blue-sky thinking’ has actually resulted in.  And how the figures, where given, stack up against the ‘can save £1.9bn’ headline.

Here is the list of SF’s economic proposals

Introduce tax varying and borrowing powers to enable the Executive to generate income and stimulate development.

That’s top of the list.  It’s not costed and there’s no indication of what ‘varying’ they propose to do.

Implement the Review of Public Administration (RPA) delivering savings of £400 million.

The figure comes from PriceWaterhouseCooper’s Economic Appraisal last year which, as noted at the time, would incur one-off costs of £126.6million, has “a projected saving of £438million over a 25-year period.”

Establish the Education and Skills Authority (ESA) saving £80 million over the next four years.

I’m not entirely clear where that figure of “£80million over the next four years” comes from.

And both of those last two proposals have foundered on the semi-detached polit-bureau rocks.

Introduce a phone mast tax to generate £160 million over the next four years.

Taxing phone companies to the tune of £24,000 per year per mast.  And expecting it not to have a knock-on effect on consumers…

Apparently, “This would provide an incentive to phone companies to share masts, which would potentially benefit environmental and public health.”  Potentially, indeed, as there’s no evidence of a risk to public health from phone masts.  And the new tax rate of £24,000 per year, per mast, appears to been plucked out of thin air.

Enable the Housing Executive to borrow £250 million per year from, amongst others, the European Investment Bank to fund social housing needs.

Interestingly, SF elaborate on this further into the document.

The Housing Executive should be given the ability to borrow on the strength of rents from housing stock.  This would take a large proportion of the DSD social housing budget, which is just over £460 million, out of the block grant and allow it to be self-financing. [added emphasis]

Yup.  Just like NI Water was intended to be self-financing.  But that process has just been reversed by the Regional Development Minister, Sinn Féin’s Conor Murphy…

Back to the list of proposals

Draw down an additional 100 million euro from the EU 7th Framework programme over the next two years to fund Research and Development and promote innovation.

Maximise access to other EU funds, such as the Joint European Support for Micro and Medium Enterprises (JEREMIE) and Joint European Support for Sustainable Investment in City Areas (JESSICA) and the PROGRESS Microfinance fund of 500Million euro.

And how has the NI Executive’s current action plan for European engagement been going?

I’m assuming they would also propose keeping the disallowances to a minimum…

Seek agreement from the four main banks to establish a Sustainable Economic Development Bond of £400 million over the next four years, (£25 million per bank per year) as their contribution to the recovery from the economic crisis.

Tax the banks!  Because we can!

Seek agreement with the Credit Union Movement to create a £100 million Social Fund targeted at growing indigenous businesses with social outcomes based on objective need.

Ditto.

Reduce Ministerial and MLAs salaries and expenses by 15%, saving £7.5 million over the next four years.

Abolish additional remuneration for Chairs/Vice-Chairs of Assembly committees.

Just propose putting them all on an “average industrial wage” and be done with it…

Service provision should be provided on an all-island basis, reducing administrative duplication and costs.

Not costed.  Has it ever been properly costed by those proposing it?

The Executive to establish an investment fund to revive and grow the economy, with a major focus on investing in SMES, spocial enterprises, new technologies, the tourism industry and manufacturing designed for export.

Funded by those new tax varying and borrowing powers?

Implement “the Green New Deal” proposals, with the potential to create thousands of green collar jobs.

Environmental levy on plastic bags, to promote the “reduce, reuse, recycle” policy. (101 million euro has been raised in the 26 counties in the last five years.)

There’s no estimate given for Northern Ireland over the next five years.

Abolish unnecessary quangos and government arms-length bodies and reduce remuneration rates.

Define “unnecessary”?  The DUP already have a list of the ones they want to see abolished.

End the use of external consultants for work which can be carried out by the Civil Service.

And where it can’t?

To safeguard public sector jobs and grow the economy, co-operation and a joint approach with the unions is essential.

And where the unions disagree? [added link]

A pay freeze for public sector workers in the higher rate income tax bracket.

Review of excessively high earnings in the public sector.

Define “excessively”? Later in the document the review is restricted to the “senior civil service”.

And, not included in the initial list, there’s this

Many public assets are not being properly utilised for the benefit of the community and options have to be considered to maximise such benefit, which may include careful and socially responsible asset realisation.

However, we are opposed to a carte blache sell-off of public assets.  Given the current depressed market in capital assets and roll out of NAMA, capital assets will continue to be undervalued in the short to medium term.

We would consider an approach to borrow against the current value of assets to fund development.  This would generate income and retain the assets in public ownership until such times as the value of the asset is maiximised.

And then?

Any sale of public assets must be conditional on the application of strict criteria to ensure that benefits are maximised in the interests of the public.

Which is fine… Except that, by that stage, it will be in the interests of the public to pay off the debt accrued through the borrowing against those assets.

As for the “£1.9bn”?  Who knows?

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  • john greene

    Sorry for any repitition:

    So Sinn Fein is saying (by saying nothing) that health should not be ring-fenced?

    Given that we have a problem retaining consultants especially outside Belfast how many consultants will we lose as a result of stopping bonuses?

    It is saying that while GB is freezing the pay of all but the low paid public servants we can afford to give pay increases to all those who are no in the top bracket?
    How much will this cost? Figures please? I believe this alone blows this entire paper apart.

    How much, on average, will mobile phone bills increase?

    If the 4 local banks hand over £100m each will they have to put up their interest rates on loans? Or lend less to private businesses? Will they not lose business to the likes of HSBC? If local banks pay savers less as a result will I be prevented from moving my account from the Northern to Santander as a result? Have Sinn Fein run this idea past the local banks?

    Like the idea of Tax incentives for R & D. How much will this cost? What will you cut in order to finance this?

    Can I take my money out of a Credit Union and put it into a British owned bank that will pay higher interest?

    Housing Executive: So the answer to the govt borrowing to much money is to let one, inefficient arm of govt is eh to borrow more money?

    Love the idea of merging Departments North and South to safe money but why not go the whole hog and merge NI and the Republic with England, Scotland and Wales and call in the United Kingdom?

    Re the ‘infrastructural under-investment by successive British Government’ please at least have the good grace to admit that successive British Govts did actual spend the money in the north but instead of investment in normal infrastructure the money was wasted on security infrastructure and compensation – primarily as a result of the IRA campaign.

    This paper is not full costed, not thought through and would be poor work for an A level student.

    Will local journalists tear in apart or coyly report it without rocking the boat?

  • Pod

    we can always rely on you Pete

    zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  • William Markfelt

    ‘I’m not entirely clear where that figure of ”£80million over the next four years” comes from.’ (in relation to the establishment of the Education and Skills Authority).

    I’m assuming that’s a figure saved by bouncing the existing Educations and Library Boards down into one. Dispersal of buildings, redundancies and so on. (so £80m less the costs of people on the dole?)

    Of course it’s worth pointing out that the ESA was supposed to be in place by January 1st this year. And responsibility for having it in place by January 1st was that of the Education Minister.

    Perhaps SF need to table an AQ to the Education Minister asking why it isn’t operational, and why we’re already £20m down (if they’re suggesting £20m saving a year)

  • john greene

    Holy Kr*p
    So £40m pa from mobile phone users. Say 1m mobiles in the north? Is that £40 each?
    Also its a regressive tax. £40 per phone with no regard on ability to pay. Businessmen can put it down as an expense – ordinary punters cant.
    Good luck selling that one on the doors!

  • Anon

    That’s top of the list. It’s not costed and there’s no indication of what ‘varying’ they propose to do.

    The figure comes from PriceWaterhouseCooper’s Economic Appraisal last year which, as noted at the time, would incur one-off costs of £126.6million, has “a projected saving of £438million over a 25-year period.”

    So, saves money then.

    I’m not entirely clear where that figure of ”£80million over the next four years” comes from.

    And both of those last two proposals have foundered on the semi-detached polit-bureau rocks.

    And? Are they legitimate ways of saving money or not?

    Taxing phone companies to the tune of £24,000 per year per mast. And expecting it not to have a knock-on effect on consumers…

    Apparently, “This would provide an incentive to phone companies to share masts, which would potentially benefit environmental and public health.” Potentially, indeed, as there’s no evidence of a risk to public health from phone masts. And the new tax rate of £24,000 per year, per mast, appears to been plucked out of thin air.

    No health affects proven, but people worry about them, however irrational you might find it. Masts also tend to be ugly. They’d didn’t say it wouldn’t have an impact on consumers. Looking at it, it incentivises minimising phone masts but could potentially hurt rural services.

    Figure looks way off (Rough Guess – 85% usage x 1 million people x £10 average cost x 12 months = £100 million a year), but looks like a reasonable stealth tax.

    Yup. Just like NI Water was intended to be self-financing. But that process has just been reversed by the Regional Development Minister, Sinn Féin’s Conor Murphy…

    Are we talking about Water or are we talking about Housing. The former has nothing to do with the later. Presumably you’d be happy to overcome SF opposition if you think its a reasonable proposal.

    And how has the NI Executive’s current action plan for European engagement been going?

    And? Is this a reasonable avenue for geting mroe funds?

    Tax the banks! Because we can!

    Presumably a bond implies money coming back, so the cost would be much less than £400 million. Yeah its kick the banks, but given the money poure din, if we can do it.

    Just propose putting them all on an “average industrial wage” and be done with it…

    They didn’t propose that. Would you support a cut, or not?

    There’s no estimate given for Northern Ireland over the next five years.

    Divide 101 million by a quarter for an estimate.

    And where it can’t?

    Don’t.

    And where the unions disagree?

    Fight them. Is this hard?

    And then?

    Sell them?

    Which is fine… Except that, by that stage, it will be in the interests of the public to pay off the debt accrued through the borrowing against those assets.

    Well then, looks like you agree.

    This isn’t scepticism. This is pure cynicism. You hate SF so we get a pithy dismissive post. There are legitimate questions, and this isn’t near enough but if parties here do this sort of thing they deserve honest discussion and positive approach because it might help to flesh out more detail and inform the process.

    I recommend you read Ezra Klein on the Washington Post,. The Reps have been more or less as nihilistic as they can, and still he discusses anything worthwhile in serious terms and gives a platform to anyone willing to debate in sensible terms, even if he thinks they are completely wrong. It’s a standard so far above this it hurts.

  • Neil

    Introduce tax varying and borrowing powers

    That’s top of the list. It’s not costed and there’s no indication of what ‘varying’ they propose to do.

    So you can’t prove that wrong Pete?

    Implement the Review of Public Administration (RPA) delivering savings of £400 million.

    “a projected saving of £438million over a 25-year period.”

    No timeframe given. So that appears to be correct also?

    Establish the Education and Skills Authority (ESA) saving £80 million over the next four years.

    I’m not entirely clear where that figure of ”£80million over the next four years” comes from.

    Lol. And? So as far as you know that’s correct too? Presumably if you had some evidence to the contrary you’d let us know?

    Introduce a phone mast tax to generate £160 million over the next four years.

    Taxing phone companies to the tune of £24,000 per year per mast. And expecting it not to have a knock-on effect on consumers…

    24k, I know, how could T mobile (pre tax operating profits 2009 9.4bn) shoulder that cost? Presumably just cutting public services would be preferable that possibly paying an extra penny a minute, though most likely not as they like to remain competitive and make a complete fortune as it is.

    Enable the Housing Executive to borrow £250 million per year from, amongst others, the European Investment Bank to fund social housing needs.

    Yup. Just like NI Water was intended to be self-financing. But that process has just been reversed by the Regional Development Minister, Sinn Féin’s Conor Murphy…

    U-hu, so you don’t see any problem there either then, other than to say, ‘look this completely different situation overe here didn’t work!’

    Most constructive, but you still haven’t pointed out any problems, or reasons why figures don;t stack up.

    Draw down an additional 100 million euro from the EU 7th Framework programme

    And how has the NI Executive’s current action plan for European engagement been going?

    So, again, no real reason to take issue with the figures? I assume that if something doesn’t go well first time, then it’s off the cards for you? We should let that money go begging, due to failures in the past? That is blue sky thinking there Pete, genius, resist any money that may come our way in order to help us through the recession. Genius.

    Seek agreement from the four main banks to establish a Sustainable Economic Development Bond

    Tax the banks! Because we can!

    LOL like that’s the only reason? I know that you understand that many people feel the banks created this mess, and that given their back to creaming it in, taxing them might be considered an ok idea?

    I see you agree at any rate ‘because we can’ fuckin-a let’s get on it.

    credit union

    Ditto

    Ditto is right. Still haven’t disproved a single figure there fella.

    Reduce Ministerial and MLAs salaries

    Just propose putting them all on an “average industrial wage” and be done with it…

    Ah, a joke. Most refreshing. Do you agree with the idea? The figures must be solid, or agin I presume you’d provide evidence to the contrary?

    Service provision should be provided on an all-island basis, reducing administrative duplication and costs.

    Not costed.

    Presumably SF have costed it, but again, due to the lack of evidence to the contrary provided by yourself, I have to assume it’s accurate.

    Environmental levy on plastic bags,

    There’s no estimate given for Northern Ireland

    Again, you haven’t disproved anything. SF say they have costed it. You have something other than a ground axe by way of reason for people to believe you?

    Abolish unnecessary quangos

    The DUP already have a list of the ones they want to see abolished.

    Excellent. So a start has been made already. Again, no proof to the contrary.

    End the use of external consultants for work which can be carried out by the Civil Service.

    And where it can’t

    Come on Pete. What do you think? Where it can be cut, cut it, where it can’t be cut, don’t. Simple enough really.

    So you’ve provided a long list, through which you’ve singularly failed to prove anything wrong, and given that you’ve now ‘fact checked’ it all, and can’t prove anything is wrong, then presumably you support the ideas?

    Or is it simply a case of don’t come up with any ideas, and just cut, cut, cut? Is that your answer?

    Or is your answer to (try and fail) to pick holes in the only constructive money saving ideas provided by any political party here?

  • Neil

    Touche sir.

  • Maxwell

    Tax the banks – no, I think SF’s idea is that you just fine them £25m a year for being “the cause of all this” – that would basically wipe out Northern Bank’s annual profits. Yes, SF are right, let’s kill off the banks, we’d be better off without them. I trust then SF won’t complain when local banks announce job losses (shortly).

  • slug

    High quality mobile broadband is important – I am against taxing investment in this industry.

  • iluvni

    “Abolish unnecessary quangos and government arms-length bodies and reduce remuneration rates.
    Define “unnecessary”? The DUP already have a list of the ones they want to see abolished.”

    Do they?
    Where is it?

  • medillen

    Vodafone alone had profits of 8.7 billion last year, I think they can handle it.

  • William Markfelt

    ‘I think they can handle it.’

    Of course they can/ They’ll pass it straight onto you.

  • medillen

    Just how British Government debt is being passed onto us?

  • William Markfelt

    ‘Just how British Government debt is being passed onto us?’

    I’m not sure I see the relevance in a discussion about how mobile phone companies will offset a regional tax bu simply passing the cost onto their customers.

  • Anon

    With mobile data you already want to minimise the OTA costs. Plus you probably want to encourage people to move services like voice to IP. At the right level the cost will be passed to the consumer without too much disruption.

    I doubt you’ll pull in those figures. But 5 million pa to invest in rural broadband or public wifi? Doesn’t strike me as a terribly conceived tax on principle. Just not likely to raise those types of figures.

  • Anon

    It’s okay pointing out things aren’t costed, but the better US blogs would go and ask. They’d attempt to work it out. Some of that seemed to be happening here recently. But not a lot, and not by Pete.

  • Anon

    £40 per user is about £3.50 a month on your bill. There is potential there for the company to absorb some of it. It’s not insane far out there. Put it another way — would people baulk at £40 pa added to rates bills?

    Still, looks a bit high. Quarter it, or half it at a push and use the money for something constructive and it looks reasonable. Innovative too, if the Assembly has the power to levy it.

  • drumlins rock

    we can start with the Human Rights Commission, then the Childrens Commissioner, then the Equality Commission, etc.

  • William Markfelt

    ”£40 per user is about £3.50 a month on your bill. ‘

    Irrelevant. It’s still a stealth tax.

  • Neil

    But they won’t pay tax on any investment into the business. If they paid 50% tax and took the 40 quid per user as profit they would recieve 20 quid. So the company loses out on 20 pounds not 40. Which is about 1.50 on their bill, and as there’s a free market here and their profits are quite high, the desire to remain competitive most likely means they would attempt to absord the 1.50 a month instead of jacking up their bills.

    Anyone who thinks that T mobile, for example would raise their 25/month contracts to 26.50/month is in cloud cuckoo land. The companies would compete with each other, as they do currently, and prices owuld most likely remain the same.

  • drumlins rock

    I CAN SAVE US 10 BILLION !!!!
    Use a cheaper variety of “own Brand” tea bags for executive meetings, that might save 40p a week, £20 a year, and in 500 million years it will have saved us the 10 billion- thats about as logical as PWC saying RPA will save over 400 million over 25 years.

  • Rory Carr

    Given that HM Revenue and Customs have just recently announced that will write off a large chunk of Vodaphone’s tax bill (well £6billion actually) on a new tax avoidance scheme which HM Revenue had hitherto been agressively pursuing through the courts.

    According to the Prime Minister’s LibDem lapdog, dear, sweet Nick Clegg, in a reply to one his constituents, this geneosity can be explained away by “an HMRC policy of closing long-running tax disputes as opposed to continuing to fight for the full amount”.

    So that’s all right then. Well at least for Vodaphone it is very all right indeed, thank you.

    Fortunately to balance this lack of nerve in attempting to recover astronomical sums of corporation tax which have been artfully kept out of their clutches by the use of dubious tax-avoidance schemes the Treasury has announced that it is to pursue any tax due on monies squirrelled out of the country by UK residents into HSBC Swiss bank accounts . No doubt they will be assisted in this revenue generating exercise by the chairman of HSBC’s private banking operations, Stephen Green who is such a good friend of Vince Cable that he has just been made his new trade minister. But, please, don’t hold your breath.

  • Neil

    Not really DR. See 500 million years is a ridiculous timeframe. 400 million over 25 years is 16 million a year, which is not to be sneezed at. It all adds up. No one is suggesting we need to find 2 bn of savings from one specific source, so realistically the only way it can be done is in lots of 20 million here, 40 million there.

    Not that it matters, the DUP are frightened of losing seats, so they’ve blocked it. Party interest comes first.

  • NI Conservative

    Drumlins – I share the sentiment but its all small beer.

    Lets expose the Shinners for the economic illiterates they are – after all it wrecked them in the South (thanks Gerry)

    Economics for Dummies

    The Westminster Government have said that public sector employees earning over £21,000 will be subject to a two year pay freeze. i.e. only those paid under £21,000 will receive a pay increase.
    Remember this will feed directly in the Block Grant via the Barnett formula i.e. we will only get money to fund pay increases for those being paid less than £21,000.

    Sinn Fein say that only those over the higher income tax threshold; £37,400 will be subject to a pay freeze. i.e. all public servants being paid under £37,400 WILL get a pay increase. i.e. The Executive will pay for a pay increase for all those in the £21,000 to £37,400 band but not above

    I wonder what the difference is? Do you think there are many public sector workers in Northern Ireland earning between £21,000 and £37,400?

    I suspect the vast, vast majority are in this category. How much would say a 3% pay increase for all these people cost? Remember we wont get the money for this from ‘the Brits’ so which hospitals will we close? Which schools?

    Is there a journalist or anyone else out there who can work these figures out and ask SF some hard questions?

  • Neil

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-11542326

    OMG Pete! Robbo reckons:

    “They have obviously put some thought into this document,” said the first minister.

    “There are aspects which in my view are completely off the wall, but there are other aspects which are in common with things we have been talking about.

    “I think there are issues worth considering and having further discussion about.”

    Whaddya know, there’s room for agreement, some if the ideas are good, or so say the DUP. I look forward to your peurile attempt to ‘fact check’ and prove Robbo wrong sometime soon, however given your failed attempt to ‘fact check’ on the Shinners and prove them wrong, I would imagine Robbo will sleep soundly enough.

  • drumlins rock

    what I’m saying neil is you cant predict what the saving would be 5 yrs down the road with the current climate never mind 25 yrs, they are pie in the sky figures and I can guarntee the amounts save would be no-where near that if any at all.

  • Anon

    Irrelevant. It’s still a stealth tax.

    Yeeeeeeees? That would seem to be the point. You know there is more than one way to close a deficit?

  • Neil

    Is that an acceptable reason not to bother DR? All future figures will rely on too many variables to be exact. That’s why there are overspends/underspends etc.

    But ‘I don’t think it will be that much, but they can’t tell exactly how much it will be so far in advance’ is not a good reason to say, ‘fuck it. let’s not bother, cause we don’t really know how much we’ll save exactly’. You could use your reasoning on any cuts going into the future, they’re all speculative.

    So what’s your suggestion? Do you disgree with RPA for some reason, other than you can’t be 100% certain how many million will be saved? Do you think we should just consign ourselves to savagely cutting services. Or are you happy that we should try to come up with some alternatives?

  • Anon

    Pish poor DR. I think you’ll find the Coalition estimating savings over 5 years and I’d be shocked if they haven’t some longer term projections in there.

    Nothing particular non standard about it. You just need to look past the big headline figure for the pa figure.

  • William Markfelt

    ‘That would seem to be the point. You know there is more than one way to close a deficit?’

    Theoretically. But sometimes it smells of stealth tax and you can see what you can do to ensure the political actions behind it are stillborn.

  • William Markfelt

    “I think there are issues worth considering and having further discussion about.”

    I am confident that these will be the areas where stealth taxes can be gathered. ‘Nothing to do with us, guv, it’s bleedin’ Vodaphone.’

  • sure why let facts and reasoning get in the way of anything Pod?

    The rest of the world should really just accept these made up figures and let us live in peace, presumably.

  • JH

    Very interesting, looking forward to reading the proposal. It sounds very entrepreneurial. We need this kind of thinking from all the parties to really tackle the problem of the stale economy here.

    I agree about this poster, Pete. He rarely seems to write anything of quality or substance, just Sinn Fein bashing. But even that would be acceptable if there were more investigation or reason in his posts but there never is. There really should be a quota on the number of posts each author can make because his drag the rest of the site down.

  • Glencoppagagh

    SF’s proposals deserve reasonable consideration. However, they’ve clearly been designed to avoid using the c word, ignoring the fact that if RPA and ESA are to yield worthwhile savings, quite a few jobs must be shed.
    My main criticism is that they have squandered the political cover provided by ‘British Tory cuts’ to initiate a necessary and overdue reduction in the cost of the public sector.

  • joeCanuck

    Yep; far too many quangos.

  • Anon

    dept of education figures state that £20million per year can be saved with the establishment of ESA, so presumably, the £80million over the 4 year CSR period.

    ESA is being blocked by the DUP

  • iluvni

    Funny to listen to Seamus McKee taking the piss-poor Mitchell McLaughlin apart there…

  • So, saves money then.

    and nowhere near the timeframe the ‘1.9bn’ reported is needed for. Sums, much?

    And? Are they legitimate ways of saving money or not?

    We need figures not fingers in the air. It’s cringeworthy.

    Presumably a bond implies money coming back, so the cost would be much less than £400 million. Yeah its kick the banks, but given the money poure din, if we can do it.

    And here was me thinking government borrowing had to be reduced by spending less. Turns out all we need to do is borrow more!

    Fight them. Is this hard?

    It will be when the party asking for these particular savings is apparently ‘on their side’. How much you reckon would actually be saved in practice?

    No health affects proven, but people worry about them, however irrational you might find it.

    Irrational behaviour isn’t something usually taking into account when budgeting. Except when it’s Sinn Fein plan obviously.

    Are we talking about Water or are we talking about Housing. The former has nothing to do with the later.

    It would be nice for some consistency from SF, if only to lend the facade of credibility to this fag packet.

    Divide 101 million by a quarter for an estimate.

    I wouldn’t surprise if SF actually did that and added savings of 404m (“euros? sterling? who cares – we’re not actually being serious! LOL!“) to get their headline…

  • DR’s point is valid. The cuts are all about the next 4 years. The term of government. Anything outside that is pie in the sky because the current parliament won’t have to implement it.

    C4’s doc on waste in the MOD being a prime example of this budgetary malpractice.

  • are you supporting someone without knowing what measures he believes to be ‘good’?

    er…

  • Mick

    It is obvious that Sinn Fein have pulled together a few key advisors to put thought into this document, as robbo clearly believes that there is room for agreement. The document seems to be directed at reaching agreement, rather than political grandstanding, so a calculated pitch has worked thus far. Do we know who was behind it, or did they outsource it? Do SF have expertise from the private sector among their ranks? Overall, a decent piece of work, and maybe a start of consensus among the parties.

  • Local Government Officer

    Neil, it was a very conservative estimate on both sides of the equation. Also, it was more-balanced towards the end of the time period. We were all up for it and ready to roll.

    Central government blew it, not only in terms of party interest, but in terms of a lack of leadership.

    Again.

  • Pod

    not at all, of course they should be studied!

    point is, the incredible shinner stalker baker had them read, costed, clarified, checked, double-checked, proofed, studied and absorbed in about 45mins

    I don’t have a problem with studying them or even disagreeing with them but pete’s weird obsession with SF is actually encouraging me to stop visiting this website as it is more and more desceding into ant-sinn féin rants

    booooooooooooooooooooooring………..

  • barnshee

    What taxes will they vary?
    By how much?

  • Sinn Fein’s ‘Into the Red’ October [pdf file]:

    “Partition has failed and continued partitionist economics will fail another generation. An All-Ireland economic recovery plan is required to deliver sustainable long lasting economic growth with greater economic equality.”

  • First time I’ve seen a journalist reporting on a political party termed a stalker. Interesting perspective you’ve adopted.

    The piece began fast-checking. It does a remarkably holistic job for what it is. Perhaps the fact such gaping holes as those identified were done so on a first scan is reflective of the quality of the ideas themselves?

    Just an initial thought.

  • he doesn’t know but f**k it he’ll support them anyway?

  • Anon

    Pete’s not a journalist.

  • Anon

    No, actually like. Wheer other parties would go for it is another matter. But they can put it up for discussion

  • Anon

    and nowhere near the timeframe the ’1.9bn’ reported is needed for. Sums, much?

    And? SF have put proposals up for discussion and MMG explicitly recognised it was part of a process. If it saves money that it might have a contribution. Listen, much?

    We need figures not fingers in the air. It’s cringeworthy.

    There are figures give. If you feel they are wrong, then they are open to challenge. Maybe they don’t save as much cash as expected: doesn’t mean they don’t have a part to play.

    And here was me thinking government borrowing had to be reduced by spending less. Turns out all we need to do is borrow more!

    SF disagrees with the speed of cuts. It’s an entirely reasonable position, taken by other parties. So it looks for a mechanism to subvert that. Entirely reasonable.

    It will be when the party asking for these particular savings is apparently ‘on their side’. How much you reckon would actually be saved in practice?

    No idea. But they are making a call to work with Unions rather than picking a painful fight. It can be done, it happems to a degree in the South.

    Irrational behaviour isn’t something usually taking into account when budgeting. Except when it’s Sinn Fein plan obviously.

    Right. So you ignore voters concerns. And personally, I’m not a big fan of being irritated with unknown consequences, thanks. When we have 50 years of a clean bill, I’ll buy it.

    It would be nice for some consistency from SF, if only to lend the facade of credibility to this fag packet.

    Or you could welcome this one and try and use it to convince them of the merits of the others. depends on whether you’ve got epistemic closure or not.

    I wouldn’t surprise if SF actually did that and added savings of 404m (“euros? sterling? who cares – we’re not actually being serious! LOL!“) to get their headli

    Poor wording on my part. Whoops.

    Why is this palce screwed? Attitudes like this. If the DUP rpovides ideas I will take an open mind.

  • Anon

    St e

    Pensions. Go away.

  • Reader

    Neil: So the company loses out on 20 pounds not 40.
    Which means that the tax raises 20 pounds, not 40.
    And if every company is affected evenly, why wouldn’t they all raise prices?

  • I regard Slugger as local journalism. Unless there is a quality in local media I am unaware of?

  • And? SF have put proposals up for discussion and MMG explicitly recognised it was part of a process. If it saves money that it might have a contribution. Listen, much?

    There are figures give. If you feel they are wrong, then they are open to challenge. Maybe they don’t save as much cash as expected: doesn’t mean they don’t have a part to play.

    So the truth is these are not so much a credible alternative as a half-arsed window dressing by people unable to provide real leadership. Similarly with MLA pay cuts I’d back them in a second but if you’re seriously suggesting – as SF are – that taken together these pathetic drops in the ocean will do what is required then you need your head examined.

    But they are making a call to work with Unions rather than picking a painful fight.

    From the guy who said ‘fight them’ in reply to the inevitable union disquiet – that SF have already attempted to foment via billboards, etc!

    And personally, I’m not a big fan of being irritated with unknown consequences, thanks.

    Smacks of Rumsfeld’s ‘unknown unknowns’. Either that or a party looking for Daily Mail votes.

    SF disagrees with the speed of cuts. It’s an entirely reasonable position, taken by other parties. So it looks for a mechanism to subvert that. Entirely reasonable.

    Er, so in a plan to find savings it asks for more spending? Do you see how others find this laughable? The repetition makes you sound like you’re trying to convince yourself to be honest.

    Poor wording on my part. Whoops.

    Poor wording normally doesn’t result in overstating savings by a few hundred million. Wouldn’t surprise me given your definition of reasonable…

    If the DUP rpovides ideas I will take an open mind.

    As everyone should. But in truth none of the local parties are showing credible leadership here and instead characteristically choose to equivocate on ephemeral arguments.

  • yeah, because government has budgeted for the coming pensions shortfalls so well!

    If you didn’t laugh you’d cry so: lol.

  • White Horse

    LOL! The Shinners have at last managed to copy sufficient other ideas from other parties to make it seem that they really do have policies on the economy.

    But like their copying of SDLP policies in the political realm
    they honour us with their lips only, because their hearts are far from us.

    They cannot copy empathy, and in some respects their economic policies are just a parody of the empathy that is really needed to make this a better place. Knowing what is needed is different to feeling what is needed to make things better.

  • Comrade Stalin

    But like their copying of SDLP policies in the political realm

    You make it sound as if the SDLP have ever dreamt up an original policy in their entire existence – which they haven’t. I had a good old belly-laugh at the SDLP grandstanding over double jobbing the other day, especially given that two out of their three MPs both double job, indeed Alister McDonnell triple-jobs as a GP.

  • Comrade Stalin

    My reaction was somewhat similar to Peter Robinson’s. I don’t think there is 1.9bn of savings there, but at least SF are starting to act like serious politicians and appear to have recognized that they can’t run away from the fact that we all have to deal with the spending crunch which is coming. I’d be very interested to see how these proposals feed into the new Executive budget.

    Some of the stuff there could work. And there is of course scope for all-island co-operation, for example on road/rail building and maintenance, hospital services/fire/police cover in rural areas, etc.

  • Cynic

    This is garbage intended to flummox an uncomprehending electorate.

    So let the Housing Executive borrow £400m. Right. So that has to be paid back at say 7% in medium term. That means £28m / annum in repayments. What for? To build social housing? When we are awash in empty apartments? So what will happen to the bottom end buy to lets? Have they run this past all those ex members of the movement who have invested so heavily in housing and especially at moving so many of the Housing Executive’s old properties into the privately rented sector?

    Establish ESA? But presumably that means either the DUPs accepting Catatonia’s education plans or her dropping them. Let me guess what they propose!

    A tax of £24000 per mast? Ok, lets pull down all the low volume ones in rural areas west of the Bann. That’s a real vote winner. Shotgun / foot mismatch time.

    Levy £25m tax on banks? Great. Is that a flat £25m or on a turnover basis? Do SF know how many banks actually operate here?

    The executive to invest money in SMEs? What a stupendous idea. Lets see all those thousands of additional commercially aware civil servants sitting in reams of committees making judgements on what to invest and where. And one assumes that some Ministers would have their own favourite SMEs to invest in.

  • Cynic

    I look forward to PSNI policing Dundalk soon.

  • Greenflag

    And there is of course scope for all-island co-operation,

    Apparently there always was according to this crusty old Dub and former Taoiseach who expounds on the career of John A Costello and much else besides . References to NI are about 20 minutes in and again at 30 minutes where a certain McCreary is mentioned . I had the pleasure of meeting this crusty oul soldier when he was in his mid seventies . He’s 90 now and still going strong . Ireland’s oldest surviving ‘constitutionalist’ and non ‘unionist’ hugger 🙂

    http://www.rte.ie/news/2010/1014/cosgravel.html#video

  • White Horse

    Sorry, still can’t take anyone seriously who describes himself as Comrade Stalin, the cause of 40 million deaths in the USSR. What do you know about the SDLP?

  • medillen

    Are you serious, were we listening to the same interview?

  • medillen

    Are you serious? Were we listening to the same interview?

  • medillen

    sorry about the double post, my bad.

  • Comrade Stalin

    You must be new here.

  • jim

    all the sf can use the D L A cars.remember the the ford escort alex was abusing.if this had happened anywere else thered iv bin ructions.so we can save loads of money scrap all the scodas let them borrow D L A cars from their voters.after all fra mc cann says the people from west belfast need special treatment after the war thats y they all need dla

  • John East Belfast

    I could pick a lot of holes in these proposals – even statements like tax incentives for R&D written as if they are not aware of the already extensive Corporate Tax credits available for R&D. Also those EU R&D Funds for anyone who has ever looked at them (and I have) are a Brussels contorted mish mash that simply arent worth the hassle – the only people who benefit from them are the consultants who promote them and the bureaucrats who construct them.

    However the most glaring nonsense (and I am surprised at Peter Robinson’s missing of this – he must be going soft) is the All Irelandry.

    And I am not unionist knee jerk reacting to this – I am talking about the cold hard economic implications.

    The bottom line is NI and the ROI are commercial and fiscal competitors – only in SF fantasy land is this not appreciated.

    It is totally appreciated in Dublin – as it should – but with these SF idiots in Stormont they run the risk of undermining NI with their obvious reluctance to land a blow on the 26 counties.

    We want more tourists, jobs, shoppers this side of the border than the other side – and we need to compete fiercely for the same.

    With the Euro going the right way in the run up to Christmas for NI Retail Exports to the ROI are SF going to feel Dublin’s pain ? Do they think Dublin would care a toss if the show was on the other foot – not a chance.

    All this stuff about sharing departments ?
    I am happy for the hospital provision in the NW to be agreed between North and South in respect of the flow of services with Donegall – however I expect there to be some hard bargaining on our side of the border to ensure we at most incur no more than our fair share of the cost – If SF dont have the stomach for that kind of debate they dont deserve to be in the NI Parliament.

    All Irelandry economics in a partitioned Ireland with different fiscal not to mention monetary regimes does not work – SF need to wake up.

  • iluvni

    “run the risk of undermining NI …”

    their very reason for being in Stormont…

  • USA

    It has been apparant for years that Baker has an obsession with SF, it is tedious, it drives people away from the site and lowers standards.

  • Dr Concitor

    iluvni, do you think the SF game plan is to show that Stormont cannot work? If that is true it would explain a lot about how SF ministers run their departments.

  • DoppiaVu

    “It has been apparant (sic) for years that Baker has an obsession with SF, it is tedious, it drives people away from the site and lowers standards.”

    It’s also been equally apparent for years that certain posters have an obsession with Baker, it is tedious, they lower standards but despite their protestations they never seem to be driven away from the site

  • William Markfelt

    Getting back to this education proposal bollocks regarding education, Ruane was floating this as far back as June (picked up by the media) and in February (a not so media sexy statement)

    We should remind ourselves that she was flagging up cutbacks of an almost equivalent sum to SF’s proposed ‘savings’.

    http://www.northernireland.gov.uk/news/news-de/news-de-february-2010/news-de-030210-education-faces-difficult.htm

    Basically these ‘savings’ look to be rather more accurately a case of ‘standing still’.

    In November 2007 almost £1m had been spent on establishing the ESA (half of it on salaries at that point).

    The legislative bill to establish the ESA was to have been read in Stormont about this time last year. We’re still waiting.

    The man chosen to head up the ESA jumped ship back to his old job at the CCEA.

    By November 2008 the costs of setting the ESA up was £7m on…nothing! Over £5m on salaries.

    Ms.Ruane is always keen to flag up the savings that might have been achieved had the ESA been in place, less keen to flag up the WASTE it has incurred so far.

    She also flags up the DUP’s feet dragging over the setting up of the ESA, and perhaps less to to point out that the CCMS has advised its members to ‘disengage’ from assisting in setting it up.

    On this basis we can assume that it ain’t gonna happen. DUP..against it. CCMS….against it. So it’s a dead duck.

    So these £20m a year are as real as ‘if I don’t eat for 12 months I’ll be a few thousand pounds richer’. We’re dealing with that level of nonsense thinking.

    Right now the thing to do would be to shut the ESAIT (and its ongoing real waste) down and make real, tangible savings of about £2.5m a year.

  • Comrade Stalin

    John,

    This makes no sense, especially not in a globalized economy. Plenty of “competing” states share certain resources, co-operate on services and other things. The biggest obvious example of this is the European Union. Similarly, within states you have competing regions.

    If an inward investment decision came in, for example, you’d expect Martin McGuinness to make the case for it coming to L~Derry whether irrespective of whether Belfast, Dublin, London or anywhere else was in the running. This fact is just as painful for Sinn Fein (as it clearly makes sense that we co-operate closely with the nation Ireland does the most business with) as it is for unionists.

    What you’re doing here is trying to design policy around what is effectively an arbitrary line drawn across the country. That’s putting (British) nationalist ideology ahead of people’s day to day lives. It’s daft.

  • John East Belfast

    Comrade

    For starters it is not an arbitrary line on a map as we will soon see when Lenihan makes a patriotic call to shop only on his side of the border this Christmas.

    Secondly I think you are mixing a lot of things up here – most importantly mutually beneficial co-opration versus competition within two different sovereign states.

    I have already said that, for isnatnce, if both jurisdictions are building roads heading towards the Border then it makes sense for officials to sit down and endeavour to have them meet in the middle.
    Or if a sewage works was being created on both sides of the border then once again they could co-operate on whether there is an optimum solution. However in all cases I would expect hard negotiation to ensure that we didnt pay more than our fair share.

    I can even countenance co-operation with both Tourist Boards to get more people onto the island but I would still expect NITB to do their damnest to ensure they come this side of the border.

    However SF “North Southery/All Irelandry” is more about politics and if necessary any concept of mutual benefits can be discounted as that is not their primary aim.

    The most obvious example of this is SF proposal to merge IDA and Invest NI to create one island job creations agency !
    What total nonsense.
    It is the job of Invest NI to get jobs and investment into the six counties.

    The idea that Invest NI Executives would be working for jobs in Cork at the expense of anywhere else in NI is the stuff of nonsense and fantasy

  • John East Belfast

    Dr Concitor

    No I dont think this is the case as I think SF want to demonstrate competence in Stormont to boost their electoral chances in the Dail.

    Anyhow it is very hardwork to constantly do a bad job and demonstrate what you suggest – Ruane would be a genius to keep up such a performance

  • William Markfelt

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-11548984

    A mobile phone company has described Sinn Fein’s suggestion to tax operators £2,000 per month for phone masts as “counter-productive”.

    The plan was part of a package of savings and revenue-generating ideas the party said could save £1.9bn.

    However, a spokesperson for O2 said such a move would be unwise.

    “It would be counter-productive to attempt to put a levy on an industry which is already investing millions in its infrastructure,” they said.

  • Anon

    How good theya re is a Straw Man. They are still budgetting far into the future in Westminster. Run along.

  • USA

    “they never seem to be driven away”
    That’s because Slugger has value despite Baker and his obsession, not because of him.
    Interestingly, I now have a new anorak to complement my full and meaningful life 🙂

  • barnshee

    There you go -asking hard questions – how will anyone be able to flannel if you keep doing that?

  • medillen

    Been looking at the proposals and doing the sums, here goes.

    Creation of ESA saving £80 million over 4 years
    Drawing money down from EU £100 million
    Phone mast tax 160 million
    Plastic bag tax 30 million
    Credit Union £100 million
    bank bond £400 million
    RPA savings in 4 years £80 million
    Housing Executive savings by borrowing £1 billion
    Reducing MLA sarlaries and expenses £7.5 million

    Total 1.9575 billion in 4 years.

  • medillen

    We will see

  • john greene

    I note Sinn Fein spokespeople are still pushing a ‘fight the cuts’ line and throwing in this line about Vodafone escaping £6bn in tax.
    The HMRC (not Vodafone) have stated this is an urban myth.
    But hey when did SF ever let the truth get in the way?

  • Rory Carr

    Urban Myth, John Greene?

    Is this how you dismiss a statement from the Deputy Prime Minister when he justifies the decision to cease pursuit of £6billion in unpaid taxes squirrelled away by Vodaphone in an avoidance scheme which HMRC hitherto had been hotly pursuing through the courts?

    Is there anything in my post of 14 October 2010 at 4:28 pm which begins, “Given that HM Revenue and Customs ….” that you would care to take issue with?

  • alanmaskey

    John Eas Belfast: Forgive me if I don’t read all of your post because I regard what I already digested as a waste of time.

    The NI Tourist Board has long tried to get Southern visitors, they being an obvious target. You assume, very wrongly, for example, tourism and leisure in general is not growing and that there are no economies to be had from two contiguous minnow entities pooling their meagre resources. I am, of course, excluding Ku Klux Klan types wanting to catch the glorious twelfth.

    Political parties generally stand on their economic record. The Sinn Fein murder and kidnap gang have a poor one and cannot be taken seriously north of the border where they help administer British rule or south of it where the government has pretensions of sovereignty and does not really a political party whose non violent expertise consists
    of helping to run a glorified British County Council.