Thu 6th October
On Wednesday, Invest NI surrendered a significant amount of unspent money to the Department of Finance and Personnel because certain projects had not come to fruition due to the current financial situation and economic recession.
Ms Ritchie said: “This decision is totally unsatisfactory and we require immediate clarification from the Economy Minister as to why this happened. Has she demanded answers from Invest NI and will she will be initiating an inquiry into why the money allocated for job creation was not properly utilised?
“People who have been unemployed for a long time, those who have recently lost their jobs, public sector employees facing cuts and low paid workers facing higher pension contributions deserve answers from Minister Foster on this debacle.
“The SDLP also wants to know if Invest NI has encouraged any potential investors to visit sites in South Down and I have tabled questions for urgent written answer to the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment.
“I have asked the Minister to indicate the number, scale and size of projects this unspent money was intended for; the location of such projects; the specific business sectors to which they belonged; the projected number of employees intended to be recruited for such projects.
“Furthermore, I asked her to detail the circumstances which led to the decision by Invest Northern Ireland to surrender the money to the Department of Finance and Personnel; how much money was returned to that Department; how much money was diverted to the tourism budget, and of the money diverted to tourism, will she indicate if this money could now be allocated to the St Patrick’s and Mournes Signature projects in South Down – projects with considerable potential for the development of the product, and for job creation in this area.
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