I made a statement on the independent review of economic policy in the Assembly on 5 October 2009. At that time, I welcomed the publication of the independent panel’s report and indicated that it will require the most careful consideration by everybody who plays a role in economic development. That is why I launched a six-week period of public consultation on the report and its recommendations. After the consultation period, which will conclude on 16 November 2009, I will consider stakeholders’ responses before detailing how I propose to act upon the report’s findings.
The Minister said that he has reservations about decentralisation, or the Bain report as it is commonly known, because of the costs that it will incur on the block grant in the future. The Minister would most like to have a discussion around the Executive table on the implications of implementing the Bain report — or not, as the case may be. I would welcome such a discussion. It will not surprise the Member to learn that I have some concerns about the Bain report, which identified some places as being suitable for public sector jobs and others, such as Enniskillen, as not being suitable for those jobs. Therefore, I have concerns about the Bain report from a parochial point of view.
As I see it, our strongest infrastructure is that of our telecommunications system. It is my hope that, if we are looking to the future and being innovative about public sector jobs, we should consider telecommunications a way of delivering jobs as well as physical infrastructure. I have to take that up in the context of the Bain report.