Question Time: Enterprise, Trade and Investment Tuesday 3 June 2014

The legacy of the Giro d’Italia, electricity prices and ‘Going for Growth’, the Agri-Food Strategy report were among the topics in today’s Questions to the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, Arlene Foster.

When the Northern Ireland Tourist Board have completed the post-event evaluation of the Giro d’Italia, it is expected that we will have exceeded the 140,000 target set for out-of-state visitors. The cycling event has helped “change perceptions of Northern Ireland as a holiday destination and provides a unique marketing opportunity to grow overseas tourism”. The Minister also believes that “Northern Ireland has very much set the bar for all future ‘Big Starts’” and that the infrastructure is now in place to bring other large and prestigious events to these shores.

Micky Brady enquired about what efforts the Minister is taking to reduce electricity prices for industrial and commercial customers. Mrs Foster said that, as electricity prices are determined by the market and that prices are apportioned fairly according to consumption, reducing prices for one consumer will mean higher prices for another. The Utility Regulator is currently compiling a report on the high energy prices paid by industry and while she will consider the report before making any changes, she warned that “someone has to pay for the changes, and we need to discuss who that is going to be”.

During the regular period for oral questions the Minister also answered queries regarding Invest NI jobs in West Tyrone, employment in Foyle following the end of the City of Culture year and the ‘Going for Growth’ Agri-Food Strategy report. Mrs Foster then answered Members’ topical questions on subjects including the prospect of direct flights to Turkey, the Glen 10 master plan, labour market statistics and enterprise zones.

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