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THE Executive has taken its eye off the ball in the fight for economic recovery, a top academic warned yesterday.

The power-sharing administration is lagging behind its Scottish counterpart, according to the First Trust Bank's latest Economic Outlook and Business Review.

It said it would be "prudent" for ministers to carry out a review of its Programme for Government.

And it was warned it will have to make some hard decisions about public spending after the impending General Election which is expected to herald cost cutting in Westminster.

The University of Ulster's Mike Smyth said in the review: "In comparison to Scotland's response MLAs have been much less pro-active.

"The Programme for Government and Budget remain largely unchanged since their publication in January 2008, with only limited responses from individual departments.

"With increased pressures on the budget and public sector funding pressures still pending, it would seem prudent for the Executive to finally start the ball rolling by initiating a review of the Programme for Government."

Latest evidence suggested Northern Ireland has been less severely affected by the downturn than many other regions of the UK.

Mr Smyth added: "Consumer confidence as evidenced in the housing market may be on the turn and the service sector has steadied with recovery."
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 22, 2009
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