Invest NI welcomes Minister's statement on independent review

The Board and Executive of Invest Northern Ireland have welcomed Minister Foster’s statement to the Assembly in relation to the Independent Review of Economic Policy.

Commenting on the Minister’s statement, Chairman Stephen Kingon said: “We welcome the fact that many of the recommendations made by the Board, in both our original submission and through the consultation process, have been endorsed both by the Panel in its original report and, subsequently, accepted by the Minister. The outworkings of the Review will be one of a number of factors which will shape our economic future.

“In particular, the Minister’s commitment to act quickly to develop new governance arrangements by April of this year, to give early consideration to higher delegation limits, streamlined approvals processes and budgetary flexibility, have the potential to transform Invest NI’s operational environment, reduce bureaucracy and enhance responsiveness. These can only be good for the businesses we support.

“In developing a new economic strategy, it will be vital that policy is aligned with outputs which most effectively support economic development. The Minister’s proposals to establish a sub-committee of the Executive and a Steering Group to drive change, will have welcome and important roles to play in that.

“As we enter a period of tighter public finances and changing economic circumstances, including the impending reductions in EU State Aid policy, it is vital that we have the right portfolio of products, delivered in the most efficient and effective manner to support the Programme for Government’s goal of building a more value added and productive private-sector led economy. These are issues which the Board, Chief Executive and senior management of Invest NI have been addressing in recent months.”

Invest NI Chief Executive, Alastair Hamilton, said: “Since taking up post in April 2009, the senior management team and I have been examining all aspects of the organisation with a view to determining how best we target our limited resources to support economic development. I am encouraged that the Review has come to many of the same conclusions as we have and the recommendations which the Minister has today announced she is taking forward reflect this.

“Many of these, such as those relating to increasing resources directed to innovation and R&D, enhancing our export support, reducing the number of programmes we offer, and broadening the range of businesses we offer that support to, are already work in hand and this will be accelerated.

“They provide valuable inputs to a much wider programme of change which I and my senior management team will immediately be taking to the Board for approval. In addition to addressing how we can best work with companies in the private sector to boost competiveness, we have identified key actions to ensure that, culturally and organisationally, we are optimally aligned to engage with our customers in a business friendly format that supports the growth of exports and innovation in Northern Ireland business. Just as the Minister has expressed her intention to move quickly on some of the wider policy aspects, operationally, we, too, see many opportunities for early implementation of change.

“Subject to the approval of the Board, I look forward to outlining this programme to our employees, our customers, the business bodies and our many other stakeholders, and to its early implementation.”