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Ministers will press Chancellor for infrastructure stimulus

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Finance Minister, Máirtín Ó Muilleoir MLA today hosted a trilateral ministerial meeting with his Scottish and Welsh counterparts in Newry.

The Minister brought together Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Constitution Derek Mackay MSP and Welsh Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Mark Drakeford AM to discuss key financial issues ahead of their meeting with the Chief Secretary to the Treasury on Monday.

The three Ministers agreed on a joint call for infrastructure stimulus from the Treasury.

Speaking after the meeting, Finance Minister Ó Muilleoir said: “I was delighted to host today’s ministerial Trilateral in the border region of Newry for the first time. During the meeting we discussed a number of mutually important issues including the ongoing implications of the EU referendum, the Apprenticeship Levy, the devolution of fiscal measures and how we can drive our economies forward in the current economic climate.

“Together we represent over 10 million people across the devolved regions and I remain of the opinion that we are stronger speaking as one voice. We are calling for a stimulus to be included in Chancellor Hammond’s 23 November Autumn Statement to provide immediate and significant capital funding to accelerate the pace of investment in our infrastructure.

“On the issue of European funding we still have no guarantee on how these important funding streams will be replaced in the future.”

Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Constitution Derek Mackay MSP said: “It remains clear that the devolved governments agree that the lack of clarity from the UK Government is damaging our ability to plan investment in our economy, to protect jobs, support businesses, and maintain high quality public services. As a result of the UK Government’s approach, we are seeing an increased level of uncertainty for public finances.

“The Scottish Government has consistently called on Chancellors past and present to end austerity and invest in our economy and public services – funded through borrowing rather than cuts – an approach that seeks to tackle the inequalities in our society rather than exacerbate them. I am pleased that I can join my Northern Irish and Welsh counterparts in calling for our budgets to be protected, which is even more important in this time of economic uncertainty.”

Welsh Government Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Mark Drakeford said: “This is our second meeting since the outcome of the EU referendum and we remain in uncertain and difficult times. We continue to face cuts to our Budgets and none of us know yet what impact the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement will have on our financial outlook.

“That is why these meetings are so important, providing us with an opportunity to get together to discuss areas of mutual concern ahead of our meeting with the Treasury next week. We continue to press for early clarity and engagement around the Autumn Statement and what the ‘fiscal resetting’ will mean for our respective settlements.”

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