Monday, 20 December 2010

Errr - have we not decided it already?

IT may be the cynics who lurk amongst us that inspire a tiny smidgeon of doubt about proposed capital projects announced in last week’s draft budget, but we think that the money was there already...

When the Executive’s man with the purse strings, Minister Wilson, rose to deliver his budget statement, he said that infrastructure projects, such as the new police (and fire service) training academy would be built, Altnagelvin Hospital would get a new radiotherapy centre and sports stadia would be upgraded.

We may, or may not, be completely and utterly stupid (such has been suggested by constant readers, but they still read this – so who’s the stupid one?) but these projects have been on the table for more than a couple of years.

Indeed, we and many others have been fed up to the back teeth listening to wrangles about them. It may, or may not, be the case that these projects have been budgeted for. It may, or may not, be the case that decisions were fudged and dodged to avoid offending one side or other.

But, if the money had been set aside for the sports stadia upgrades, for example, where was it when the rows about location (Maze/Long Kesh prison site anyone?) and wrangles within the Irish Football Association were taking place. Was it languishing in a Swiss bank account accumulating interest? Was it hidden underneath Sammy’s mattress? Was it tucked safely away with the banks? Or, was it somewhere within the corporate governance maze of drawdowns and money requests to Treasury that dominate all public sector relationships?

For, if it is the case that the cash has already been allocated it could be that instead of Executive largesse, the infrastructure budget seems more than a wee bit suspicious. Or maybe it is that infectious cynicism that seems to be afflicting us all post-budget statement...

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