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Thursday, 13 December, 2001, 12:12 GMT
Economic blueprint is debated
Welsh Assembly graphics
Assembly Members are due to discuss the final draft of Wales's National Economic Development Strategy (NEDS), which could create up to 135,000 new jobs.

The administration has pledged to spend more than 15bn on creating new jobs and projects which will kick-start economic prosperity in key areas of Wales.
First Minister Rhodri Morgan
First Minister Rhodri Morgan has backed the document

But the economic blueprint has not won universal approval from AMs.

The draft document, entitled A Winning Wales, includes a range of projects, schemes and initiatives, which are all directed towards jobs creation and boosting the Gross Domestic Product figures for Wales.

Currently, Wales's GDP lags behind the UK, at just 80% of the national average.

NEDS places emphasis on industries of the future, such as information technology and financial services.

Assembly's economic aims for 2010
Create 135,000 jobs, including 20,000 in business and finance
Increase business spending on research and development to more than 1% of Welsh GDP
Increase numbers of adults with qualifications to 90%
Raise the proportion of firms using e-commerce to UK average

The former Welsh Secretary Ron Davies criticised the economic plans.

"The strategy sets targets it cannot deliver.

"Part of the problem is that we need much more investment, particularly in parts of Wales such as the Valleys, which needed improved communication links," said Mr Davies, AM for Caerphilly.

"We need to deal with pockets of severe deprivation."

Dr Phil Williams, Plaid Cymru's economic development spokesman, said there was no link in the blueprint between the aims and resources available to achieve the goals.

"There is no regional dimension to the plans. The needs and assets of different parts of Wales are very distinct, so there must be regional targets."
Ron Davies AM
Ron Davies AM: More investment needed

Backers of the blueprint include the environmental group Forum for the Future, which has praised the strategy's backing for sustainable economic growth in Wales.

But business leaders in Wales have criticised the strategy, which they say lacks an overarching vision.

In July, members of the Confederation of British Industry in Wales branded the assembly's economic strategy as "ineffective."

CBI Wales said the document had failed to take in the "big picture" in Wales and focused too hard on minor detail.

CBI Wales director David Rosser said the assembly's economic draft document had "relied too much on relatively minor initiatives like trade missions."

It has missed out on the big issues like education, transport and planning systems, he said.

In March, the CBI and other industry groups threatened to withdraw co-operation with administration on the 1.2bn Objective One regional aid scheme amid complaints over a lack of consultation.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Ron Davies AM for Caerphilly
"The strategy sets targets it does not have the capacity to deliver"
BBC Wales's business correspondent Miles Fletcher
"The plans offer a vision of the Welsh economy expanding up to 2010"
See also:

14 Mar 01 | Wales
CBI threat to quit 1.2bn scheme
18 Jul 00 | Wales
Wales's windfall worry
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