Invest NI is at the centre of a storm this morning over claims that it is returning nearly £40m to government which ended up unspent.
This matter is being raised at committee in Parliament Buildings this morning where Invest NI’s Finance Director will give an exposition on this matter.
I am told Invest NI is no different to any other government department having to hand back unspent monies at the end of the year in March.
Invest NI doesn’t have ‘budget flexibility’ to carry money over from one year to the next even though the commitments may move from one year to another.
I gather there is considerable frustration in Invest NI because of the absence of flexibility to hold on to funding at the end of the year.
To alter this situation the Assembly would have to legislate to allow greater flexibility. It is being suggested there is a reticence to go down this road to accommodate Invest NI because it would set a precedent and other departments would want to follow suit at the end of the financial year to transfer money from one year to the next.
Invest NI argues it has met all of its targets over the past three years. Charges of underspending are said to be angering bosses as they feel the law leaves them powerless to transfer money from one year to the next.