Alliance leader Naomi Long addressed an audience of business people today (Monday), telling them that ‘Despite the challenges we face, Northern Ireland has the resources to emerge from the pandemic stronger and more competitive than before”.
She was speaking at an event organized by the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NI Chamber), as part of a ‘5 Leaders; 5-day pre-election series produced in partnership with SSE Airtricity.
Speaking at the Europa Hotel, Ms Long said: “In this election, we are laying out an ambitious plan not just for the economy but for NI as a whole. We want to end the politics of dramas and soap operas and focus on stability and delivery.
She focused on skills as an economic driver, saying: “Skills are the engine of the economy: a key driver of economic and social change in our society, essential for increasing productivity and making our economy more open , flexible and competitive.
“A skills revolution is just one of the ways we can ensure that Northern Ireland provides the best possible environment for overseas investors. It can’t just be about cutting costs. It is not sustainable to try to be the cheapest, rather we must try to be the best.
And on climate change, she commented, “We will address climate change by creating a Green Economy Task Force to advise the Executive and a Green Investment Unit to review the sustainability of all Invest projects. OR.
“Planning apps stuck in the system for years hold us back economically and socially. Those consulted by the law are often the slowest to respond and a culture change is needed to make public sector bodies drivers of change, not barriers to it.
“Our Green New Deal is our plan to build a new society, invest in thousands of safe and green jobs, and transform our economy.”
NI Chamber Chairman Paul Murnaghan also spoke, stressing that the new executive should focus on areas of strategic importance, including promoting Northern Ireland internationally, preparing for a green and digital future and the acceleration of planning decisions.
He explained, “To achieve all of this, we need to see all of our political representatives around the executive table, focusing on creating the conditions for a thriving private sector.
“At NI Chamber, we believe Northern Ireland is a unique place and we need to focus on what makes us a particularly brilliant place to work, live and do business. As a region, we enjoy unparalleled access to EU and UK markets, creating opportunities for exports, FDI and international collaboration. We have a young, highly skilled workforce with high levels of well-being in a cost-competitive location that is recovering quickly from the pandemic. By working collaboratively, we have a tangible opportunity to lead the innovation and exploitation of digital and green technologies as we aim for net zero 2050 – or sooner.
“As we meet this morning, Northern Ireland has a window of opportunity to excel in a number of spaces. The next group of ministers and MPs must get to work quickly, put politics aside parties and provide the certainty and stability that businesses, their employees and everyone in Northern Ireland deserve.
SSE Airtricity Managing Director Klair Neenan added: “The passage of a Climate Bill through the Assembly in recent weeks and the setting of a net zero target is something to be warmly welcomed and will be key to building confidence in green investment in Northern Ireland. But the key is to ensure that this overarching ambition is backed by policies and actions. We took the first steps with the energy strategy published last year. While the ambition of the strategy, including targets of 80% renewable electricity by 2030 and 50,000 renovations per year, is to be welcomed, it is essential that we see action after the election to further accelerate the green investments.
“We have an enviable advantage in Northern Ireland in our natural wind resource and our success to date. But to reach the 80% renewable electricity target, we will need to at least double wind capacity in Northern Ireland within this decade. »
The 5 heads; The 5 Days series ends tomorrow (Tuesday) when the companies hear from Michelle O’Neill, Sinn Fein. To register for a spot in the audience, please visit the NI Chamber website.
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