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Budget 2016-17

Part of Executive Committee Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:45 pm on 19th January 2016.

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Photo of Thomas Buchanan Thomas Buchanan DUP 3:45 pm, 19th January 2016

I am nearly there. First, I congratulate and commend my friend and colleague Mervyn Storey for taking on the role as Finance Minister and wish him well. As we come to our Budget debate today, many challenges lie ahead, not least in employment and learning, on which I want to focus my remarks today. However, while there are challenges that we must tackle, we also have an opportunity to build a solid foundation that supports economic growth, strengthens social inclusion, inspires people to achieve their aspirations and provides hope for future generations.

The establishment of the new Department for the Economy, bringing together the further and higher education sectors alongside our business community, will, I believe, play a key role in continuing to strengthen the economy and to drive it forward. There is no doubt that, in the past few years, just like all other sectors of society, further and higher education felt the pain of the economic recession, which not only created many challenges for them but is still having an impact on them today as they continue to deliver for their students. However, as we all know, challenges always bring new opportunities and innovative ways of delivering.

Reskilling and upskilling our people is essential to give everyone the opportunity to realise their full potential and to make a valuable contribution to society. That is one of the challenges that must be properly addressed if we want people ready for the devolution of corporation tax.