£6m loan mooted for private Ebrington firms

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Martin McGuinness and Arlene Foster’s accountant says £6million in discounted credit may be loaned to private firms to kick start Ebrington as a quid pro quo for George Osborne’s £3.5billion dole-out to first time buyers in England in 2013.

Dr Mark Browne, accounting officer at the Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM), said the feasibility of the move is being considered.

He revealed £6m of ‘financial transactions capital’ (FTC) has been allocated to OFMDFM for the purpose of getting Ebrington going.

Dr Browne said: “The FTC was identified for the Department in the expectation that it may be possible to use it to develop the Ebrington site.

“We are looking at that to see whether it is feasible. We have some concerns that that might not be the best way to do it, and we may need some conventional capital. We are looking into it at the moment.”

Dr Browne, who is Deputy Secretary of Finance, Strategic Planning and Social Change at OFMDFM, made the revelation during a recent briefing to the OFMDFM Committee at Stormont.

FTC involves Northern Ireland Departments loaning money or taking stakes in private firms in pursuit of recognised Governmental policies such as developing Ebrington.

The firms are eventually expected to pay back local Departments who in turn repay the Treasury a percentage of the original loan, keeping some of the difference.

The new funding mechanism was recently established because Mr Osborne’s help-to-buy home equity loan scheme - announced in 2013 - only applied in England and we’re owed it under the Barnett Formula.