‘GDP figures are a damning verdict on Welsh Government’s economic competence’ – Kirsty Williams

March 20, 2012 12:25 PM

The Welsh Liberal Democrats are using their debate this week to call on the Welsh Government to publish an economic development strategy in order to ensure that any further EU funding would be immediately focused on driving economic growth.

Last week new figures revealed that despite receiving more than £6bn of EU aid over the past decade, the economies of West Wales and the South Wales valleys have fallen further behind the European average.

Kirsty Williams, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, commented:

"Despite receiving more than £6bn of EU aid, Wales has continued to become poorer over the last decade when compared to the European GDP average. The new figures released last week confirmed fears that the Welsh Labour Government has allowed the Welsh economy to take yet another step backwards. It is a damning verdict on the Welsh Labour Government's economic competence.

"In 2002, Rhodri Morgan stated that the huge amount of EU funding was the Welsh Labour Government's big chance to bring the Welsh standard of living up to the European average. The Welsh Liberal Democrats shared this vision - sadly Labour and Plaid Cymru in government failed to put these resources to best use. Instead, they directed money to projects that did not offer Wales any opportunity to get our economy moving in the right direction.

"It is paramount that the Welsh Labour Government learns from its previous mistakes. Labour has proven that it cannot be trusted to allocate EU funds appropriately. The Welsh Liberal Democrats are now calling on the Government to publish an economic development strategy for West Wales and the Valleys as a matter of urgency, in order to ensure that should Wales qualify for an additional round of funding, projects focused on driving economic growth can begin immediately."

Eluned Parrott, Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Minister for Business and Enterprise, added:

"The Welsh Labour Government's response to these damning figures was of great concern. Rather than simply holding its hands up and promising to improve, the Welsh Labour Government sent out a spokesperson to quibble over figures. Only recently, the Europe Minister said that when it comes to handling EU funds, Wales was second best in Europe at working with the private sector. Since then the Minister has been forced to write to members admitting he had no evidence whatsoever to support these remarks. With such a poor grasp of how bad their record is, is it any wonder the Welsh Labour Government has struggled to get Wales moving forward.

"The Welsh Economy needs to be rebalanced towards private sector jobs. In previous years, the private sector has won a miniscule amount of European funding despite Wales having an unbalanced economy that relies so heavily on the public sector. The Welsh Labour Government must right this wrong by publishing an economic strategy that will be immediately focused on driving economic growth."

What would you like to do next?