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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 October 2007, 18:19 GMT 19:19 UK
Plan to freeze NI domestic rates
Finance Minister Peter Robinson outlined the budget
Finance Minister Peter Robinson outlined the budget
The domestic regional rate is to be frozen for the next three years, the finance minister has announced.

Peter Robinson unveiled the plan in his first draft budget along with the executive's first programme for government.

Mr Robinson said he intended to raise 790m through "more efficiency" from the public services by 2010/2011.

He said a rise in the block grant, more government borrowing and better access to money from rates would help fund it.

Meanwhile, the Northern Ireland Executive aims to create 6,500 jobs over the next four years through inward investment.

Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness
This place is truly under new management - and who would have believed how far we have come
Martin McGuinness

Mr Robinson described how the government would fund the 10bn a year economic plan and "real increases" in public spending.

He said that the executive's efforts would be judged by the people of Northern Ireland.

"For the public it is not the input, but the output that will count," he said.

First Minister Ian Paisley said it was "another momentous day" for Northern Ireland and the executive wanted "a better future for all".

Mr Paisley said that when devolution returned in May doubts had been raised about the ability of the executive to co-operate.


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"This executive can and will work together in the interests of all our people," he said.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said that there had been a "seismic shift" since the return of power-sharing.

"This place is truly under new management - and who would have believed how far we have come in so short a time."

In the programme there is an emphasis on the need to develop a dynamic economy.

The executive wants at least 75% of the new jobs to attract salaries above the local private sector average.

The target is for 45 new business and 600 existing companies to become exporters over the next three years.

A new employment and support allowance will be introduced next year to enable those unemployed due to ill health or disability to return to work.

Ministers want to halve child poverty by 2010 and eradicate it by 2020.

The executive is pledging to extend free public transport to everyone over 60 during the course of next year (currently the age is 65).

Other highlights include a pledge to take forward major building projects at more than 100 schools over the next three years.

Finance Minister Peter Robinson speaking at Stormont

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