FINANCE Minister Simon Hamilton recently discussed local economic conditions and the challenges facing the hospitality sector and pub trade with representatives from Pubs of Ulster at the Primrose Bar in Ballynahinch.
Speaking after the meeting, Simon Hamilton said: “The hospitality sector is an extremely important part of our local economy and is an integral part of our tourism industry and product which the Executive has invested heavily in over recent years. This sector is going to be vital as we seek to rebuild and rebalance our economy.[caption id="attachment_41836" align="alignleft" width="390"] Simon Hamilton, Finance Minister, centre, with Pubs of Ulster Chief Executive Colin Neill, and Mark Stewart, Chairman of Pubs of Ulster after their meeting in the Primrose Bar in Ballynahinch.[/caption]
“Meeting representatives of Pubs of Ulster and engaging in an open discussion about the threats and opportunities facing the sector has been extremely beneficial.
“Specific concerns were raised about bank lending and improving the availability of finance at reasonable terms… an issue my Department is already very much focused on. This is critical for our local businesses including those in the trade and I assured those representatives today that I am and will continue to press this point with both the banks and the Government.”
Continuing on access to finance the Minister added: “We need to test the banks on this. I would like to encourage all businesses to come forward and apply for the money they need to invest and if they are turned down to ask why and to appeal that decision through the independently operated process that is in place.
“We have some distance to go yet before the economy is fully recovered and there will still be some pain along the way, but I sense we have turned the corner.
“Recent economic news has been more encouraging on a number of fronts including the Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) published by the Ulster Bank on Monday which showed that business activity expanded for the first time in over five and a half years.
“I was particularly pleased that the increase was seen across the manufacturing, construction and services sectors. There are many challenges but building on and maintaining these positive trends will give people the confidence they need about future economic prospects to go out to local bars, hotels and restaurant.]]>