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Figures are clear.

SIR - It is vital to correct the erroneous claims made in Monday's paper and editorial comment on the Assembly's budget for the next three years.

I totally refute the accusations in your newspaper that the draft budget figures we have published are not an accurate and true reflection of our spending plans. They are. The tables do not double count or misuse the figures, but show very clearly the extra funding we are providing over and above our previous plans.

Second, contrary to the assertion made by David Davies AM, the Assembly budget includes figures that are entirely consistent with those published by Treasury. In addition - and to provide greater transparency about changes to our previously agreed figures - we show baselines and the changes that we have made to them. Rather than confusing matters, used properly, this information provides a clear and understandable picture of how our budget has changed.

Third, this has always been the case and it is important that AMs are made aware of such changes. No complaints were made by opposition spokespeople about the validity of the detailed budget presentation when it was discussed with them, or directly to me in the days before the draft budget debate. This presentation of our budget lines is exactly the same as in previous years and by now should be fully familiar to Assembly Members. If any Assembly Member cannot understand the budget properly, I have always been available to provide clarification.

The detailed budget is on the website for everyone to see and clearly shows there is no attempt to misinterpret the figures - on the contrary.

SUE ESSEX AM

Finance Minister Welsh Assembly Government
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Oct 28, 2004
Words:276
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