Finance minister announcement is regrettable

Following the announcement by Simon Hamilton that he will seek to create a new division to reform the public sector, UNISON Northern Ireland regional secretary Patricia McKeown has said: “It is regrettable that the first act of the new finance minister is to announce an attack on public jobs and services.

“Playing to the gallery in the business world to demonstrate that you are a ‘tough guy’ with the public sector is lame when you are presiding over a highly suspect system of public procurement.”

Ms McKeown added that if the minister was “serious about reform”, he might start with the following areas:

  • reducing the multi-millions of public money being spent on private sector consultants to carry out such work as economic appraisals and the development of area plans, when a significant number of experts are already employed in the civil service and public service;
  • reducing and eradicating the multi-million pound double and triple payments to certain members of the medical profession instead of investing it in the NHS;
  • the money spent on establishing yet another ‘division’ to reform the public sector;
  • the money spent on unnecessary government apparatus such as special political advisors;
  • the money (up to 15% of the health care bill) wasted on a false commissioner/provider split in the health service and the entire apparatus which has been put in place to back this up.

“We would hope that our new finance minister would also pay some very serious attention to how the billions of public money spent on procurement in Northern Ireland are actually being disbursed. Openness, transparency and above all ethical behaviour are what we hope to hear.”

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