[Sinn Fein]

15 February 2001

Finance & Personnel Committee meet London Underground management

Sinn Fein Chief Whip and West Belfast MLA Alex Maskey has said that meetings with the London Underground management during a two-day visit of the Finance & Personnel Committee to London to interview advisors for the committee's Inquiry into Private Finance Initiatives (PFI/PPP) has been extremely useful.

Mr Maskey said:

``It is important that we look at the issue of how we increase the expenditure available across all of the Executive departments as there is a very obvious and pressing need to increase the money we are able to invest in our hospitals, railways, sewerage and schools. The unfairness of our block grant allocation under the Barnett formula has been flagged up by all the political parties and the lack of any real peace dividend has also been highlighted by Sinn Fein.

``The reality is that we should be doing everything in our power to ensure that the discriminatory patterns of past delivery of services and infrastructure and the disadvantage it has created need to be tackled.  This will take substantially increased investment.

``It is important that we look at how PFI/PPP is used elsewhere, including Britain and the rest of Ireland. A full analysis of PFI/PPP projects is urgently needed in order to see how successful they have been and the main reasons for their failure to deliver promised benefits.

``The whole issue of value for money and the long-term impact on services and safety need to fully debated and we need to examine alternatives to PFI/PPP and make recommendations on the future implementation of PFI/PPP in the north of Ireland. The relevance of PFI/PPP to Ireland also needs to be seriously examined.

``The difficulties facing our public services because of very real and substantial under investment is inescapable but we need to ensure that whatever solutions are used that the long-term implications are fully understood and that services and safety are not compromised.''

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