Following his appointment, Simon Hamilton said: “I am very honoured to be appointed as the Minister of Finance and Personnel and look forward to the role and the important challenges that are ahead of me.
“The portfolio of the Department is not to be underestimated as we work to deliver on a wide range of issues working with other government departments in delivering on the commitments contained in the Programme for Government.”
Speaking about the wide range of issues facing the Department, the Minister said: “As we continue to rebalance and rebuild Northern Ireland’s economy there are significant issues we need to deliver on including the budgetary challenges presented to us by Treasury. I have no doubt that there will be continued financial pressures with competing departmental priorities when hard decisions will have to be made.
“Welfare Reform, rating issues, devolution of Corporation Tax will continue to be high on the agenda as well improving online access to government services by the citizen and continuing to tackle sick absence levels across the whole of the Northern Ireland Civil Service.
“I am committed to working with my Ministerial colleagues in following through on the opportunities offered by the Economic Pact and in pursuing a programme of public sector reform to enhance the quality of services to the public and to improve efficiency.”
“I firmly believe that DFP is the engine room of the Executive and if this Department isn’t working well or functioning to its capability then neither is the Northern Ireland government as a whole.”
Simon Hamilton has served as Chair of the Social Development Committee between 2009 and 2011, leading Stormont’s scrutiny of the work of the Department of Finance and Personnel in respect of housing, social security, the community and voluntary sector and urban regeneration.
He was also a member of the Assembly and Executive Review Committee which examines issues such as streamlining Stormont and the devolution of policing and justice powers. And he was also Deputy Chair to the Assembly’s Environment Committee.
Since 2011 Mr Hamilton served as Assembly Private Secretary to the Minister of Finance and Personnel Sammy Wilson until this appointment today.
NIIRTA Welcomes New Finance Minister
The Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA) has welcomed the appointment of Simon Hamilton MLA as Minister for Finance and thanked his predecessor Sammy Wilson MP for his record of support for independent retailers and small businesses.
NIIRTA Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said: “Sammy Wilson leaves office with a strong of record of supporting independent retailers and small businesses in Northern Ireland. He deserves considerable credit for expanding the Small Business Rate Relief Scheme and introducing the Empty Premises Rate Relief Scheme”
“Both these measure have been helpful in supporting Town Centres in these challenging economic times.
“NIIRTA has an excellent working relationship with Simon Hamilton and look forward to working closely with him as Minister.
“The key challenge for Minister Hamilton is to build upon his predecessors’ Rate Reform Programme and ensure that the current Rates Revaluation delivers even more for small traders and Town Centres.”