IN a hard hitting stab at the SDLP, NI Assemblyman Willie Clarke said, “It is becoming increasingly clear that the SDLP are completely devoid of imaginative thinking when it comes to budgetary matters. Their priority is to grasp every media opportunity and criticise the Draft Budget proposals in a bid to compensate for their failure to participate in the drafting of the proposals.
“In the run-up to the budget, Sinn Féin proactively examined the deficiencies in present Departmental spending practices and indentified new revenue streams. In our deliberations, we put forward proposals that would secure £1.86 billion to alleviate the effects of the Tory imposed cuts to the Executive’s Budget.
” By contrast, the SDLP only published its Economic paper the week before the Draft Budget was produced. It consisted mainly of regurgitated policies published a number of years ago and a few additional ideas that were discussed during the all-party Budget Review Group meetings to which they did not contribute one single proposal.
” Now in the mouth of an election they propose an amendment to the Draft Budget which they claim would generate £22.1million. As well as cosying up to the UUP/Tory party their spokespeople such as Conall McDevitt are now advocating the introduction of water charges.
” The SDLP state the obvious when they say the budget is not good enough but Sinn Féin, rather than sit back and absorb the wounds inflicted by the British Exchequer went about identifying an additional £1.86 Billion of efficiencies and revenue raising opportunities in our document, ‘A Better Way’.
” The SDLP need to stop playing politics with people’s lives in advance of an election and their time would be better spent joining with us in working to ensure a better deal for all of us,” he added.