Friday, 21 May 2010

Will we won’t we

TO cut or not to cut that is the question – alas our poor Finance Minister Sammy Wilson and his Executive chums are faced with a dilemma. For new PM David Cameron has offered a deferment or maybe a partial deferment to the slash and burn cuts that everyone has feared since the recession bit deep.

Now, it would be nice if we could all decide not to implement the cuts, but as always in any dealings with the Treasury there is a catch.

This time the catch is like the buy now, pay later deals beloved of many a furniture salesman.

If NI plc doesn’t tighten the purse-strings in this current year then the cuts could be double next year.

Sammy has already warned that there are cuts coming down the line no matter what the budget settlement is, and that in-year schemes to re-distribute unspent money will instead go back to UK Government coffers. But the real consideration is what happens with the Assembly election less than a year away.

The obvious solution would be to introduce the fair/unfair [delete as appropriate whether you have income below/above £100,000] water charges.

That would be a conversation worth listening into round the Executive table; or rather the lack of conversation.

Being nice people all round, Tories, DUP, UUP, Sinn Féin, SDLP, and Alliance members don’t want to introduce ‘cuts’ in the public sector, but rather are intent on boosting the private sector.

Their cunning plan is to insist on efficiency savings. Every Minister and public sector chief executive has been at pains to say things such as “no compulsory redundancies”. Of course, we’re not cynical, but let’s look at that statement in an analytical, rather than cynical manner. If there are no compulsory redundancies there are re-deployments or even voluntary redundancies. If such measures are taken (no doubt with a recruitment freeze too) then the money may be saved, but what about the services.

People, generally can’t help getting sick (and we are an ageing population), children can’t help but need to go to school, fires do not spontaneously put themselves out and roads that fix their own potholes are still on the design board. And, the automated dole office has not been approved for operation.

So brace yourselves people - whether now or later, the end is nigh!

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