Press Releases

HISTORIC PRESS RELEASE : Northern Ireland tackling the productivity gap head on – Barbara Roche [February 1999]

The press release issued by HM Treasury on 1 February 1999.

Northern Ireland is increasingly being seen as an excellent location in which to set up in business, Financial Secretary Barbara Roche said today.

Last year was a record year with over 0.5 Pounds billion of new investment flowing into the region providing for over 5,000 jobs. Speaking at the Interpoint Centre in Belfast at the Government’s Productivity Challenge Roadshow, Mrs Roche said:

“In recent years Northern Ireland has grown quicker than any other region in the UK, but there is still a long way to go to meet the productivity challenge. All of us must learn how to work better and improve our skills so that we can adapt to meet the demands of a modern economy.

“The Good Friday Agreement and the Chancellor’s 315 million Pounds initiative offer the stability businesses need to plan for the future.  We must ensure that we grasp this opportunity and build a world class economy in Northern Ireland”.

Throughout the 1990s the Northern Ireland economy performed well. GDP rose by 15.6% between 1989 and 1996, compared to 9.1% for the UK as a whole. Manufacturing output rose by 24% between 1990 and 1998, compared to the UK rate of 3.5%. Employment has grown while unemployment has been falling steadily.

Northern Ireland’s economic strategy is currently being reviewed to take account of changing needs and a draft report will soon be presented to the new Assembly for its consideration. This strategy will be a major building block to improving local productivity and generating future prosperity for Northern Ireland.

While in Northern Ireland Mrs Roche also visited Fast Engineering and Randox Laboratories in County Antrim.