Friday, 19 October 2012

Here we go round and around…

Here we go round and around…

WHILE the news media and radio rantathons went round and around on all sorts of issues (you know what they are…) a few wee things may have slipped your attention; things like the economy.

Yes that little thing that puts bread on the table, milk in the fridge and a nice wee cheeky bottle of vino on your dinner table.
While hysteria and hyperbole roamed unchecked across every conceivable media outlet, the coalition government’s ministerial working group looking into giving Norn Iron tax varying powers held its last meeting and agreed to present an options paper to the PM.

The long-running saga of corporation tax is nearing its dénouement, the final act before a conclusion is brought to this saga.

Like the Skalds of ancient Scandinavian tradition, the story-tellers of political theatre have been telling the tale around corporation tax from around the last viking invasion of Strangford Lough – well it feels that way.

One must – yes you must – have a certain sympathy with the first minister and deputy first minister. They have been trying to convince the coalition and treasury of the merit of their argument for tax varying powers, as have many other members of the Executive.

Whatever the possible merits or mischances offered by lower corporation tax, Messrs Robinson and McGuinness  must feel like screaming at treasury mandarins: “Will you just make your blooming minds up!”

All going to waste

SURE what’s £3m between friends…it’s all just waste when you think about it, a waste of money turfed into a SWaMP2008 project that was meant to save money.

Yep, just as the UK government was squandering millions on a rail franchise mess, we here in l’il ole Norn Iron were not to be outdone.

SWaMP2008 was a project between Armagh, Banbridge, Cookstown, Craigavon, Dungannon, Fermanagh, Newry, Mourne and Omagh councils to develop a waste treatment initiative that would have saved ratepayers a pretty penny and potentially staved off expensive EU fines for not handling waste properly.

Instead the bidding process got caught in legal mire; with the result that SWaMP2008 has decided that it cannot risk expensive legal costs.

There are those that say that local government’s focus should be on making sure the bins are emptied properly. Of course they do much more.

Meanwhile environment minister Alex Attwood, who had hoped to see reform of local government within his lifetime, let alone the life of this assembly term, sat in the hills of the Mournes looking at the debris of his department’s national parks policy and asked of the gods of local councils: “Why me!”

Like a bridge over troubled waters…

THERE are times when we must doff our caps to local politicians. This week we tug our forelock to those in elected office, and say: “ach yer not so bad big lad!”.

We saw this week that planning approval was finally given by authorities in the south for a bridge over Carlingford Lough to connect counties Down and Louth.

With hopes high that the EU will be ready to splash the cash, we can only say on behalf of every motorist that drives between Norn Iron and its southern neighbour that it may reduce the number of cars, somewhere and somehow clogging up junctions…

And, at the same time it seems that First Minister Peter Robinson and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness have been taking a shine to Chinese food, and we’re not talking about the local takeaway near Stormont.

It emerged this week that the dynamic duo are to make two trips to China to further economic, academic and other links – the first next month with a second trip scheduled for next year.

Despite concerns in some quarters about human rights in China (they don’t even have a Human Rights Commission like our wee one!) there is no doubt that the country is the big beast of the economies outside the US.

It is churning out high quality graduates and is rapidly subsuming many traditional brands and developing more and more innovative solutions.

We are just a tiny part of a tiny island off another island, on the outer rim of Europe. If our First Minister and deputy First Minister can get the Chinese to look at putting a few quid of investment and trade our way then it will be worth the air miles.

No comments: