£4bn cuts planned for North as UK agrees loan
NORTHERN Ireland political leaders have started selling a draft budget of £4bn (€4.7bn) in spending cuts with the promise of more than £1bn (€1.175bn) in new revenue.
The deal hammered out after weeks of negotiations at Stormont ended with late-night talks that saw the DUP, Sinn Fein and Alliance all back the plan.
The Ulster Unionists and SDLP abstained.
The package includes £540m (€635m) raised by selling public assets; £150m (€176m) from an inflationary increase on rates; £16m (€18.8m) from a levy on plastic bags; and £80m (€93m) from housing association assets.
First Minister Peter Robinson said specific investments contained in the proposal would create at least 10,000 jobs in the region.
Finance Minister Sammy Wilson told the Northern Ireland Assembly that, in agreeing a four-year budget which was forced by central government's hard-hitting spending review, the Executive had "come of age".
Meanwhile, British MPs yesterday approved a loan of up to £3.25bn (€3.8bn) to bail out the Irish economy after legislation was rushed through parliament in just a day.
Chancellor George Osborne said helping Ireland recover from the banking crisis was "overwhelmingly" in the interest of British taxpayers.