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Last Updated:  Monday, 31 March, 2003, 10:46 GMT 11:46 UK
'Slash bureaucracy' calls by DUP
DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson
Peter Robinson: Agreement created 'bureaucratic nightmare'
At least 0.5bn could be saved by cutting back on political bureaucracy in Northern Ireland, the Democratic Unionist Party has claimed.

The DUP estimated that 20m could be saved over a four-year period by cutting the number of Assembly members from 108 to 72.

The proposals were contained in the party's document entitled Rates Time Bomb, which was launched on Monday.

Northern Ireland Assembly elections have been postponed until the end of May to allow time for more talks on restoring devolved government.

DUP PROPOSED CUTS
Assembly members from 108 to 72
Government departments from 11 to six
Expenditure on north-south bodies and ministerial council
Scrapping the Civic Forum
Reducing size of OFMDFM
The elections were scheduled for 1 May and will now take place on 29 May.

Devolved government was suspended last October amid allegations that a republican spy ring was operating at Stormont.

DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson said his party believed a "bureaucratic nightmare" had been created by the Good Friday Agreement.

"We believe at least 0.5bn could be saved by cutting down on the waste and bureaucracy and that is only a conservative estimate.

"If there were a more structured efficiency drive through government, I think ratepayers in Northern Ireland would be shocked to learn as much as 1bn could be freed up in the lifetime of an Assembly for frontline services, yet pro-Agreement politicians are anxious to push up rate bills and introduce additional water charges.

"If you go on our conservative estimate, an extra 0.5bn would, over a four-year period, fund tens of thousands of major operations in our hospitals and reduce waiting lists, provide dozens of new schools as well as miles of new roads and road improvements.

"Money can be freed up by slashing the bloated bureaucracy which gives us 32 more Assembly members than we need, by scrapping the Civic Forum, by cutting down on the excesses of north-southery and the equality and human rights industries created by the Agreement and cutting down on an oversized OFMDFM (Office of the First and Deputy First Minister)," he said.




SEE ALSO:
MLA numbers 'should be cut'
04 Feb 03  |  Northern Ireland


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