Elections to the Assembly are just around the corner and after the holidays political parties will be drafting election manifestos.
This year, I thought I’d gift them my own five-point manifesto.
First, I would privatise our healthcare provision.
The NHS in NI cannot continue to be thrown a blank cheque to deliver hospital waiting lists approaching 400,000 patients that in turn lead to higher disability living allowance as patients languish on these hospital waiting lists.
I would research and analyse private health provision for companies that successfully deliver a comprehensive service year-on-year for a two million-plus customer base, what benefits they provide and what their costs are.
If this cost-benefit analysis were compelling then I would invite these companies to bid to take over health care provision in Northern Ireland and put it out to tender.
Second, I would restrict corporation tax at 12.5% to those companies that pay salaries at or above the average or median wage in NI so as to (i) progressively drive up the average wage here, and (ii) to prevent companies paying minimum wage from being rewarded for doing so.
We only need to create tens of thousands of high-paying jobs and so we should discriminate in favour of companies that provide quality jobs for the local workforce.
Third, I would cut housing benefit by fifty per cent.
Average house prices in NI are only half that in Britain but housing benefit is paid at the same rate as in Britain, which skews the property market in favour of buy-to-let landlords at the expense of local people who are struggling to find affordable housing to buy or rent.
Fourth, I would subsidise the provision of tidal power generation.
Anyone familiar with tidal currents offshore is aware that one the hour-long slack tide does not occur at the same time everywhere along our coast, which means that positioning tidal generators at different locations around our coastline will ensure 24/7 power generation.
We could and should become world-leaders in this technology.
Lastly, I would gather the necessary data streams necessary to determine exactly what taxes and revenues are raised in NI and what expenditure we incur, i.e. where we are now; and what revenues and expenditure we should aspire to, i.e. where we want to be; and then create a strategy to get there.
Bernard J. Mulholland, Malone Road BT9