From the Desk of Gordon Best, Regional Director, QPANI
The pre-Christmas Stormont House agreement has given some hope that some certainty will be brought to the Northern Ireland political arena and Stormont’s future and the sustainability of Government Finance in Northern Ireland.
However the expected cuts in revenue and capital spending envisaged this year will no doubt impact on those companies who depend on public sector contracts for their very existence.
QPANI members have already felt the impact of resource budget cuts and the reduction in capital spend proposed in the Executives Draft Budget for 2015 -16 is causing alarm and a fair degree of frustration across the construction industry.
The Association has submitted a detailed response to the Draft Budget Consultation t. QPANI has worked with other organisations while compiling our response such as CBI, CEF, MNI and the Freight Transport Association so that we maximise the private sector industry voice.
As we look into 2015 one of the significant challenges the industry will face is the changes in the administration of local Government and the reduction of local Councils from 26 to 11 that will take effect from April 2015. I am delighted to inform you that QPANI will participate in a working group, set up by Planning Service and the new Council Chief Executives, that will help build capacity and knowledge of new and existing planning officials with regard to the aggregates and minerals industry in Northern Ireland.
This will undoubtedly help build relationships, trust and knowledge between the industry and the new Council Planning Groups and will hopefully take us to a new more efficient, transparent and sustainable mineral planning regime in Northern Ireland.
As you know we have made frustrating slow progress on Aggregates Levy and we will continue to lobby hard in early 2015 with the Treasury, and working with our own Department of Finance and Politicians, to have a new ALCS and greatly reduced Aggregates Levy introduced back into Northern Ireland.
It is worth noting that as part of the Government Statement following the Stormont House talks they have indicated they are considering the devolution of additional fiscal powers to the Northern Ireland Executive should a comprehensive agreement among the parties on all outstanding issues be sustained. The Government will consider additional fiscal devolution for Northern Ireland, including Aggregates Levy, Stamp Duty Land Tax and Landfill Tax. This again shows that the Government listens to us.
Our achievements as an Industry body have been possible by having the support of our members giving us a strong representative voice at the table with key decision makers and respect among our political representatives.
I would like to thank all those members who have and continue to participate in the Association’s activities, events and Committees and showed any verbal or financial support in 2014.
May I wish every one of you and your families a healthy and successful 2015.