Business

Stormont 'is failing leadership test' says accountancy head

Maeve Hunt, chair of Chartered Accountants Ulster Society

A LEADING accountant has called on the north’s main political parties to end political instability, provide a shared vision for the region and to provide “real leadership”.

And she hit out at Invest NI’s suspension of offers of financial support, insisting “it sends out a message that Northern Ireland isn’t open for business”.

Maeve Hunt, chair of Chartered Accountants Ulster Society, addressing 400 guests at the organisation’s annual dinner in Titanic Belfast, called for an Executive to be formed immediately after the May 5 Assembly Election “to end the terrible impact of political uncertainty and address the real issues facing business and society”.

She said: “As it stands, with costs rising, supply chain disruption, and a war in Europe, our Executive is unable to present a vision for the future and an agreed budget for services for our people.

“The finance minister tells us that £300 million of funding for local services cannot be allocated. The failure to agree a three-year budget is disappointing and we are frustrated at the indecision.

“We are also angry that our devolved government is failing us yet again. Our ministers are not doing what we put them there to do, which is to deliver timely decisions on our economy and every sector of our society, where there are glaring needs.”

He added: “The longer political instability continues, the more difficult it is for local business to contribute to growth, create jobs and provide a better quality of life.

“The health crisis has changed how we live and how we work. We now have an opportunity to rethink how we do things. We have an opportunity to assess how our small region sits in the wider world.

“It is an opportunity to embrace the post-pandemic future, to re-energise our economy and to realise the fantastic potential that exists here in Northern Ireland. But we must ensure that this opportunity does not pass us by.”

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