Friday, 2 December 2011

In through the out door

SOMETIMES we are alleged to be a little bit cynical. Yes, I know that may shock you, but it is true: we have been taught to be suspicious of every move that every politician takes, every time they open their mouths.

Which is perhaps why it was with a little jaundiced jeer that we toasted George Osborne’s announcement that Norn Iron was to get a cool £200m extra to spend on whatever the Executive saw fit when the Chancellor made his autumn budget statement.

No matter whether Norn Iron has had its begging bowl held out to Tories or Labour, it is a good idea to see what strings are attached to the outreached 30 pieces of silver.

But, for a time we couldn’t quite see where the catch was. At the heart of every cynic is a romantic hoping for the best while fearing for the worst.

And lo, behold, the Secretary of State for Norn Iron, Owen Paterson has announced that a date is to be set to consider allowing Norn Iron to have a wee bit special corporation tax rate to entice those Yanks with stuffed wallets to empty their contents here.

Great, after all the waffle then maybe a decision!

And then we looked at the figures. Estimates are that reduced Corporation Tax in Norn Iron will cost us between £100m and £500m. Not even the most rash bookie would offer odds on the final figure as being £200m – exactly what Mr Osborne is handing out...

Of course, such a cynical suggestion could have one rated as being paranoid, but it all sorts of makes sense when you look at head on, rather than through the prism of news stories churned out.

We don’t blame the Tories in the same way it is unfair to blame Labour handling of Norn Iron’s weird economy.

Giving with one hand, while taking with the other is a perfectly reasonable approach when dealing with the Norn Iron political ‘elite’.

In the middle of the muddle will be, for another 18 months at least, Mr Sammy Wilson, Minister for Finance and Personnel. We all feel much reassured...

Monday, 28 November 2011

Who ate all the pies?

RIGHT own up now or the entire population gets detention! Who amongst you has been eating all the pies? C’mon, quicker that you own up, quicker that we can get on with decent ranting!

Well you pie eaters and salad dodgers, you’re going to cost us a fortune, and not just because of the hike in pastry prices across the land as a result of excessive demand.

Turns out all you burger munchers and chip addicts are going to cause a tsunami of obesity related illnesses that will result in huge demands on our already over-stretched waistlines, sorry health budget.

Which, given the parlous state of Norn Iron finances means real trouble. The bill will become ever more exacting in human lives, not to mention the costs of treating diabetes, strokes, heart attacks and respiratory illnesses, something our politicians are all too well aware of.

But what can any self-respecting, if slightly tubby MLA do about it apart from adopt a healthy lifestyle as an example to all?

We have been known to indulge a little like the rest, but we also know the success of public health campaigns on smoking, drink driving and the like. Yet, we spend so little on the public health budget in Norn Iron that an Ulster Fry, with all the trimmings (that means double bacon, double sausages and double fried eggs) seems at times like a national cuisine d’art.

The alternative is for the Health Minister to begin a serious re-evaluation of spending on public health as part of the ongoing review of health.

Or could all of you who have been eating all the pies own up and leave lest you tip the island into the Atlantic!