Committee discusses unspent funds returned to the finance department

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Department of Finance officials briefed members on the outcome of the January monitoring round, on 23 January 2013.

At different times throughout the year, government departments examine their own spending in what are called monitoring rounds. This is when unspent money is returned to the Department of Finance and Personnel (DFP).

Finance Minister Sammy Wilson criticised his ministerial colleagues at Stormont on 22 January over the amount of unspent public money they had returned to him.

They had given back millions because their departments were unable to spend it within a specific time period.

A total of £42.3m in unspent funds was returned to the Department of Finance.

The officials also discussed the implications of Chancellor George Osborne's Autumn Statement for Northern Ireland.

Mr Osborne delivered his statement on 5 December 2012.

The statement was one of two major statements the Treasury has to give to Parliament every year, and it has grown in importance during the recent difficult economic times.

Department of Finance official Peter Jakobsen referred to certain aspects of the statement which included the fall in the main rate of corporation tax from 22% to 21% from April 2014, and the cancellation of a planned 3p rise in fuel duty.

Mr Jakobsen said he did not think the reduction in the corporation tax rate would have much of an impact on the Northern Ireland economy.

"98-99% of our companies are small and this won't impact them," he said.

The committee's chairman, Daithi McKay of Sinn Fein, said the matter of devolving corporation tax powers to Northern Ireland "seems to have gone off the radar in the last couple of months".

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