Sluggish Northern Irish economy sparks growing concern

Economic activity in the North stagnated in the last quarter, contracting 0.1%, the latest government figures show.

According to the Northern Ireland Composite Economic Index, released by the Northern Statistics Agency and the Department of Finance on Thursday, the economic performance of the North improved by only 0.3% during the year.

The latest economic index sounds a warning about the direction the northern economy could take in 2020 and will be an unwelcome indicator for the new executive. He is seeking further financial support from the UK government, which has pledged to “provide an injection of £ 2 billion (€ 2.35 billion) in financial support” as part of the New Decade deal. Approach.

But Finance Minister Conor Murphy warned the £ 2bn package was insufficient and “utilities in the North would face a deficit of at least £ 1bn next year alone”.

Against this background, the review points out that the Northern Ireland economy remains 3.6 percent below its peak in 2007, when house prices hit a record high.

The latest figures also show that Northern Ireland’s economic performance was significantly worse than that of the UK and the Republic in 2019.

The UK economy grew 1.1% over the year through the third quarter of 2019, while the Republic’s quarterly national accounts show a 5% increase in gross domestic product over the same period.

Is NI’s Economy “Stuck in the Track”?

According to Richard Ramsey, chief economist at Ulster Bank in Northern Ireland, the past year was “a turning point for the private sector in Northern Ireland”.

“After five years of annual growth, the private sector in Northern Ireland has suffered a further downturn. It looks like the Northern Ireland economy has ended the decade as it started, 2020 is set to be a tough year with Brexit remaining a work in progress, ”said Mr Ramsey.

“Maybe the only bright spot is in the public sector. The return of Stormont’s executive will help resolve the decision-making impasse that has built up over the past three years. But it is clear that when it comes to economic growth, Northern Ireland’s economy appears to be stuck in the track. “

Pat R. Madsen