Ulster Unionist Finance Spokesperson, Philip Smith MLA, has revealed that last year the Northern Ireland Executive spent £74.5m paying interest on debt, £5.5m more than it is spending this year on the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service.
Philip Smith MLA said:
“The unsustainable DUP/SF policy of borrow and spend is exactly what caused previous UK Governments to get our public finances in such a state of crisis. Unfortunately, rather than a Finance Minister who understands what it means to live within a budget or to use public money prudently, Máirtín Ó Muilleoir’s main policy proposal to date has been to borrow even more.
“Through an Assembly Question I have now been able to reveal that the total extent of Executive net debt as of 31 March earlier this year was £2,051,605,438, with £74.5m paid on interest last year. That represents more than twice the cost to run the entire Public Prosecution Service, or £5.5m more than it spends on the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service. The costs of borrowing are only projected to increase as the Executive continues to borrow a further £300m this year.
“We have by far the largest level of indebtedness of any region in the UK, with almost three times the level of debt per head of population compared to Scotland. The Northern Ireland Executive is incurring such large levels of debt that future generations will struggle just to service the interest payments.
“The Executive cannot continue to infinitely borrow funds in order to conceal their repeated financial negligence. I would just hope that every DUP and Sinn Fein Minister recognise that every pound borrowed today will mean that even more will have to be repaid by future generations.”