“Frankly I haven’t got to the bottom of this one yet…”

A snowbound Mark Devenport has been pondering the unsurprising economic illiteracy evident in some parties’ responses to the draft Northern Ireland budget distribution…  From the Devenport Diaries

When George Osborne announced his Spending Review in October there was some analysis indicating it equated to 75%/25% ratio between cuts and taxes. We couldn’t get a definite figure from the Stormont Finance department for the ratio in Sammy Wilson’s effort to plug the projected £4 bilion hole in the local budget over the next 4 years.

Sinn Fein has been particularly anxious that the Executive should not be seen as merely passing on Tory/Lib Dem cuts, and in a series of statements Sinn Fein ministers highlighted the additional £1.6 billion which they reckoned has been generated in order to balance the books. On the face of it, as I said on Good Morning Ulster on Wednesday, this would imply £1.6 billion in extra revenue and £2.4 billion in savings, which is a 60%/40% ratio (similar to what Labour’s Alan Johnson has talked about as his preferred option for tackling the UK deficit).

However Finance department officials only specified £840 million in extra revenue in the budget package – around half the Sinn Fein figure – and some of the details for, say, the disposal of assets sounded pretty vague. But if you work on this basis the cuts/tax ratio would be more like 75%/25% or even 80%/20% (which is similar to George Osborne’s ratio).

Read the whole thing.