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Unfortunately, it is apparent that the economic downturn and the credit crunch are not fleeting events; their effects are likely to endure, and the crisis may deepen even further. We continue to experience falling property prices coupled with high inflation, food and fuel prices.
That challenge can only be managed effectively at Executive level. I have discussed the implications of the economic downturn with the Minister of Finance and Personnel on several occasions. On 18 September, I met ministerial colleagues, including Minister Dodds, to discuss those issues.
Additionally, the deputy First Minister and I have met local interest groups to listen to their concerns and gather their ideas for mitigating measures that we might put in place to offset the worst effects of the economic downturn. In preparation for those, we have drawn on advice and information across ministerial portfolios.
The deputy First Minister and I intend that addressing cost-of-living pressures should become a key item of Executive business, to ensure that we collectively address the problem across the full width of Government.