‘The Finance Minister’s draft budget fails to deliver on the people’s priorities’

Draft Budget is a litany of failed opportunities.

Acting Finance Minister Darren Millar AM tore into the Finance Minister’s Draft Budget 2020-21 in the Chamber today (January 7), declaring it “…an opportunity the Finance Minister has missed…”, and full of policies that are “…tried, tested, and failed”.

From the M4 Relief Road, to Cardiff Airport, and from health and education to the economy, Mr Millar said that the Finance Minister had a golden opportunity to invest in the people’s priorities, drive a more dynamic economy, and build on the opportunities for Wales outside the European Union.

“But,” he began:

“Where there was the opportunity to be imaginative you’ve opted for the mundane. Where there was the opportunity to rise to the challenge and be ambitious for our economy, you sat back. Where there was the opportunity to be radical you’ve stuck to the tried, tested and failed.”

Mr Millar continued his passionate critique of the Draft Budget, calling the lack of investment in Welsh roads – including the M4 Relief Road rejected by the Welsh Labour Government following a £144-million investigation – “… one of the biggest barriers to growth and investment in South Wales” and calling for investment in the A55 and A40.

“But ironically, when we look at where Welsh Government is investing in transport – it’s actually in the most polluting form – air travel.

“This year, we’ve see a further £4.8 million for the state-owned Cardiff Airport, on top of a loan in excess of £21m announced in October.”

Just last week, pre-tax losses at the airport trebled from the previous year to some £18.5m, far in excess of the modest £1m loss during the airport’s last full year in private ownership in 2012.

Specifically on the environment, Mr Millar – who represents Clywd West – said:

“This was proclaimed as a ‘green’ budget, but the reality is that the Welsh Government’s response to its own climate change emergency declaration has been slow, vague and uncosted. We need to see more investment in cleaner technology in line with the drive to phase out diesel and petrol vehicles.

“Many Welsh counties have the poorest network of electric vehicle charging stations in Britain. Why isn’t this budget doing more to invest in these? It’s a missed opportunity to invest in clean technology and encourage consumers to make greener choices.”

Speaking later, Mr Millar said:

“There are elements of this Draft Budget I have welcomed, as have my Welsh Conservative colleagues, but overall its one failed opportunity after another from a failing Welsh Labour Government.

“The UK as a whole is moving forward, and the newly-elected Conservative-majority government is getting Brexit done, and delivering on its manifesto promises.

“However, this Welsh Labour Government will see that its reckoning is going to come sooner than it thinks and hopes in next year’s Welsh Parliament election.”