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Budget debate is “”groundhog day” says Muir

Alliance MLA and Party Finance Spokesperson Andrew Muir has described the on-going debate around the Budget Bill as “groundhog day”, with the current process labelled as repetitive, convoluted and badly in need of reform.

Mr Muir has said that whilst the Finance Minister had provided an extremely challenging budget, a good proportion of time spent during the debate produced lots of heat and very little light with a repeated focus on problems not the solutions needed.

He added: “This is a tough time financially for Northern Ireland. The Covid pandemic has had a massive impact with the long list of departmental needs far outweighing the amount of funding available.

“We need reform, we need to consider a new way of doing things to deliver better scrutiny and outcomes for our citizens. Multi-year budgets are a key tool required to address many serious issues facing our society, most especially spiralling and lengthy waiting lists plus delivery of a Green New Deal, something this house unanimously backed in a motion just last month, tackling the climate emergency in a positive, socially-just and fair manner.

“But what we finally need is a fully functioning devolved Executive focused less on repetitive dramas and more on using the tools at hand to work towards a better, more healthy, fairer and prosperous society.

“We must take that change for change otherwise, like in the Groundhog Day movie, we will be back here again and again and again repeating the same problems, the same issues and same outcomes. Northern Ireland deserves better.”