Strong economy should be ‘our shared goal’ says Hamilton

Economy Minister Simon Hamilton pictured with NICVA chief executive Seamus McAleavey at the Big Ideas Festival of Economics in Belfast

Economy Minister Simon Hamilton pictured with NICVA chief executive Seamus McAleavey at the Big Ideas Festival of Economics in Belfast

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Northern Ireland’s economy must grow and rebalance in a way that ‘preserves the values and special qualities of our society’, Economy Minister Simon has claimed.

Addressing the NICVA Big Ideas Festival of Economics in Belfast, he said the province had made “huge strides” economically but yet to reach an ideal situation.

“In many respects, things are better than they’ve ever been,” he said.

“But we are far from where we want to be.”

With the private sector driving growth, Mr Hamilton said employment was now at its highest ever level as the province continued to successfully compete with other locations worldwide for major job investments.

Despite that he said household disposable income remained “stubbornly amongst the lowest in the UK”.

“Too many are still out of work. Some have never been in work in their lives. Many of those who have jobs are working harder and harder but feel that they are stuck in the same place. And they are concerned that their children will have to struggle more than they did for less, rather than more.

“I want us to build not just a better economy. But one that is better for everyone, everywhere in Northern Ireland. An economy for the common good.”

That, he said, was absolutely constructed upon the foundations of more and better jobs, improved skills and a better economic infrastructure.

“It will require our local companies to grow and it will need more inward investment. We cannot achieve our aims without it.

“But true success won’t simply be determined by purely economic measures. Genuine success should be gauged as much by how economic growth enables our people to live healthy, happy and fulfilling lives.”

“We must protect and preserve what positively sets us apart with the same effort and enthusiasm as we put into bringing more and better jobs to Northern Ireland, increasing our competitiveness and improving our productivity.”