Building the Northern Ireland economy back stronger than ever is my top priority, new Economy Minister Paul Frew said today.
Speaking as he took up his new role, Mr Frew said: “I am honoured and privileged to take up the position of Economy Minister for Northern Ireland.
“I wish to thank and pay tribute to my predecessor Diane Dodds for her hard work and dedication during what has been a truly unprecedented economic crisis. Without the support packages the Department put in place under her leadership, the business landscape would be in a considerably worse position.”
Turning to the future, the Minister said: “I do not underestimate the scale of the economic challenges we face as we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The recovery has, however, already begun and I will do all I can to help our local business community accelerate it and maximise the opportunities that lie ahead, for the benefit of all in society.
“The Economic Recovery Action Plan (ERAP) sets out how we will build a more competitive and inclusive economy as we recover. Through the plan we will invest almost £287million to build our skills base; to stimulate research, development and innovation; to promote investment, trade and exports; and to build a greener economy.
“Under the plan, later this year we will further accelerate the recovery with the High Street Stimulus and Holiday at Home Voucher schemes that will deliver tangible benefits not only to households, but also to the local retail, hospitality and tourism sectors right across Northern Ireland.
“And the Tourism Recovery Action Plan will further help get our fantastic tourism and hospitality offering back to its pre-pandemic position.”
The Minister continued: “Despite the undoubted challenges we face, I believe the future of the Northern Ireland economy is bright. My Department’s 10X Economic Vision sets out how we will create the conditions needed to position Northern Ireland among the leading small economies in the world.
“In this context, I want to progress the associated 10X skills strategy for Northern Ireland to support more people to improve their job prospects and fulfil their economic potential.
“Furthermore, I will seek to maximise the jobs and investment opportunities that the energy sector presents, as we drive towards a net zero carbon economy through a new Northern Ireland energy strategy.
“And, through the 10X trade strategy, I will work to ensure that Northern Ireland remains an attractive location for international companies to locate, invest and flourish.”
The Minister concluded: “I am greatly looking forward to tackling the challenges that lie ahead. Over the coming weeks I will undertake a period of extensive engagement with key stakeholders from across the business community and other key sectors such as further and higher education.
“My message is clear – Northern Ireland is once again open for business, open for investment and open for visitors. Let’s work together to build a prosperous economy for the benefit of everyone.”