Junior Minister Martina Anderson has called for closer co-operation between Invest NI and banks to ensure the full potential of investment is realised.
The Sinn Féin MLA made the call after Invest NI returned £21.6 million of unspent money to the Executive. It is the second time in recent months the investment body has had to return unspent money. Last year it returned £17.5 million to the Executive.
Ms Anderson said; “It is less than satisfactory that once again we see Invest NI returning a substantial amount of revenue to the Department and while I have been a severe critic of some of the decisions and practices of Invest NI in the past I believe that the Banks have questions to answer in regard to the inability of Invest to capitalise on the full job creation potential of its budget.”
The junior minister also called on banks to foster a closer working relationship with Invest NI in the future to maximise economic benefit.
“While I accept that Invest must redouble its efforts to attract investment and create jobs through marketing and strategic development I do not accept that the banks are playing their part in assisting economic recovery.
“Irresponsible practices and mismanagement in the banking sector created the financial disaster that we are now attempting to recover from.
“I believe that there is capacity for some form of collaboration between Invest NI and the banks to find ways to ensure that overly restrictive banking practices do not result in Invest being unable to advance job creation or retention investment to qualifying applicants,” Ms Anderson explained.