Statement by TUV leader Jim Allister:-
“Despite all the talk about austerity and department’s cutting services, I have established through Assembly Questions that last year (2013/14) Stormont departments and their arms length bodies spent £2,599,552.00 on hospitality. In fact the true figure is even higher, because the lead department OFMDFM has failed to provide information on its spend, though I know in 2011/12 it was £161,000.00. What has OFMDFM to hide?
“The individual departments spent 22% more than they did two years ago, the last time I established their hospitality spend.
“The arms length bodies of O’Dowd’s education department top the list with £710,000 spent on hospitality in 2013/14, followed by DETI’s bodies, which include Invest NI, on £534,502. The arms length bodies of the over-budget Health department spent £329,400.
“Of course, some hospitality spending is appropriate, but is it necessary on this scale, £50,000 per week? I expect not. It is time Executive ministers clamped down hard on such lavish spending of taxpayers’ hard earned cash. Ministers can’t expect to be taken seriously in talking up a difficult budgetary climate while failing to cap and control the spend on wining and dining.