Monday, 22 December 2008

Who has been naughty and who has been nice

He’s making a list, he’s checking it twice, but who will Santa decide has been naughty or nice in the Northern Ireland Executive’s ‘beat the credit crunch package’ announced on Monday?
Unveiled was a £70million package, which included a one-off £150 fuel credit for up to 100,000 vulnerable households.

Tagged alongside were announcements on a freeze on business rates, construction projects and a scheme for building additional farm slurry tanks.

Finance Minister Nigel Dodds declared that the fuel poverty credit scheme had gone beyond the one proposed by Social Development Minister Margaret Ritchie.

Cue much name calling.

With the DUP and Sinn Féin happy with the deal announced, Ritchie declared the fuel poverty package was a ‘smash and grab’ raid on her budget.

She claimed the Executive had taken £30million from her budget and this would reduce the Housing Executive’s social housing budget. First Minister, Peter Robinson hit back with a stinging riposte.

“I would have thought she would be jumping up and down and rejoicing. Instead we hear carping and criticism,” he said.

"These are people who clearly do not understand the first thing about finance."

With the war of words still raging Santa will have a tough job deciding which of the warring parties has been naughty or nice.

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