Agrifood Loan Scheme

Oral Answers to Questions – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:15 pm on 17th February 2014.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Oliver McMullan Oliver McMullan Sinn Féin 3:15 pm, 17th February 2014

5. asked the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment why the £10 million agrifood loan scheme, which she announced with the Finance Minister, was handed back. (AQT 735/11-15)

Photo of Arlene Foster Arlene Foster DUP

It has not been handed back; it just could not be spent within that period because of legal issues that had to be sorted out between the banks, industry and government.  This is the first time that we have tried anything like this, and, sometimes, when you try something for the first time, it takes a little while for the lawyers to get their head around it.  I understand that the lawyers acting for the banks are now content and that the issue is now with the principal poultry supplier.  Therefore, I am very hopeful that the matter will come to a head in the very near future.

Photo of Oliver McMullan Oliver McMullan Sinn Féin

I thank the Minister for her answer.  Will she give me an update on the Going for Growth strategy?  When does she expect it to be brought before the Executive for consideration?

Photo of Arlene Foster Arlene Foster DUP

As I am sure the Member is well aware, this is a joint paper between the Agriculture Minister and me, given which I was rather surprised to hear the Agriculture Minister's comments on it when I was out of the country last week.  It is quite a comprehensive paper.  It is now before the Executive, and I am certainly not "holding it up", which was, I think, the allegation made last week when I was not around to deal with the issue.  

We very much hope that Executive colleagues will sign up to Going for Growth, but, of course, that is in the context of money being available to deal with it.  As we know, we are going to lose millions of pounds if we do not get agreement on welfare reform.  Therefore, it is very difficult to see where the money will come from.  Indeed, I would welcome the Agriculture Minister's clarification on where the schemes are, what she is putting forward for them and some clarity on where the money is going to come from.  We look forward to that clarification in the coming days.