Public Procurement

Part of Oral Answers to Questions – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:00 pm on 17th February 2014.

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Photo of Simon Hamilton Simon Hamilton DUP 2:00 pm, 17th February 2014

I regularly hear the criticism from Ministers that not having end-year flexibility does not allow them, particularly on the capital side, to plan sufficiently far in advance.  We are all aware of the old criticism that year-end expenditure is not necessarily of the same value as stuff that is planned further in advance.  The problem is that we work within the rules that the Treasury sets us, which do not allow us to have end-year flexibility.  It is not called "end-year flexibility" any more, it is the budget exchange scheme.  In respect of capital carry-over into the next year, we have a maximum of £10 million for the entirety of the Executive's capital budget.  That is out of a budget of over £1 billion of capital spend, so the Member and the House will appreciate that the amount of money that we can carry forward is very small.  That does not permit us to give any one Department or business area total flexibility in what it can carry forward.

I accept that in many circumstances — I have spoken to some colleagues about this — there are business areas where not having the ability to carry forward money into another year does not allow them to plan capital expenditure with the degree of certainty and strategic nature that they would want.