New Economy Minister 'doesn't underestimate challenges' ahead

  • New Economy Minister, Paul Frew has said that "building the Northern Ireland economy back stronger than ever" is his "top priority". 

    The former electrician added that he does "not underestimate the scale of the economic challenges we face as we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic."

    Such challenges are coming thick and fast, with a primary consideration being the furlough scheme beginning to wind down in July. It is intended to be fully stopped by the end of September. 

    HMRC's most recent official statistics showed 90,000 jobs still registered under the scheme at the end of April, and The Irish News reports that an escalation in redundancies appears inevitable in the second half of 2021.

    In a statement released today, the DUP MLA thanked his predecessor, Diane Dodds and addressed how he believes the initiatives set up under Dodds - including the 10X Economic Vision and High Street voucher scheme - will continue to help NI's economic recovery.

    “Despite the undoubted challenges we face, I believe the future of the Northern Ireland economy is bright. My Department’s 10X Economic Vision sets out how we will create the conditions needed to position Northern Ireland among the leading small economies in the world," Mr Frew continued.

    “In this context, I want to progress the associated 10X skills strategy for Northern Ireland to support more people to improve their job prospects and fulfil their economic potential.

    RELATED: Dodds: 'Building an economy for Northern Ireland's second century'

    “Furthermore, I will seek to maximise the jobs and investment opportunities that the energy sector presents, as we drive towards a net zero carbon economy through a new Northern Ireland energy strategy.

    “And, through the 10X trade strategy, I will work to ensure that Northern Ireland remains an attractive location for international companies to locate, invest and flourish.”

    “The Economic Recovery Action Plan (ERAP) sets out how we will build a more competitive and inclusive economy as we recover. Through the plan we will invest almost £287m to build our skills base; to stimulate research, development and innovation; to promote investment, trade and exports; and to build a greener economy.

    “Under the plan, later this year we will further accelerate the recovery with the High Street Stimulus and Holiday at Home Voucher schemes that will deliver tangible benefits not only to households, but also to the local retail, hospitality and tourism sectors right across Northern Ireland.

    “And the Tourism Recovery Action Plan will further help get our fantastic tourism and hospitality offering back to its pre-pandemic position.”

    “My message is clear – Northern Ireland is once again open for business, open for investment and open for visitors. Let’s work together to build a prosperous economy for the benefit of everyone.”

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