In response to a statement issued today by Jennifer McCann, MLA, entitled, “Invest NI guilty of same negligence as IDB”, Invest NI Chief Executive, Alastair Hamilton said: “Since 2005, Invest NI has offered £677m of support to business, resulting in total planned economic investment of £3.6bn. Whilst the vast majority of projects meet, or exceed, their targets, it is inevitable that some will not, particularly as our role is often as a lender of last resort. When any claw back situation arises, Invest NI pursues recovery to the maximum degree. In the last five years we have sought recovery of £54m paid to companies, and have secured more than £30.7m, with work ongoing to recover a further £8.5m. The £15m that has had to be written off equates to 0.4% of the total planned investment in the same period. Most of the £15m relates to companies which have closed, where Invest NI has still sought recovery of public money.
“I am surprised that Ms McCann refers to Seagate in her comments on “lost” public money as the company repaid all amounts which were due. In addition, her general comments appear to be at odds with those of the Public Accounts Committee, who I met as recently as 20 May and where the subject of risk management was discussed. Indeed, Ms McCann’s Assembly colleague, Mitchel McLaughlin, said “If we engender a risk-averse approach, we will fall short of our targets and aspirations. The thrust of the Committee’s view is that risk is part of the process, so risk management must also be part of the process. ..It is certainly not to discourage people from taking risks.”
Mr Hamilton added “His comments were echoed by Committee member, Mr Trevor Lunn, who said that ‘if Invest NI never took a risk it would never have a failure; it would not be doing its job. If one only backed racing certainties, there would not be many of them; so one has to take risks.’”