CLWYD SOUTH AM KEN SKATES welcomed news that the Welsh Government is to be granted borrowing powers and said rail electrification of the North Wales mainline should be one of the first capital projects to benefit.
On Tuesday the Welsh Government announced that it had agreed a deal in principle with the UK Government to have access to borrowing powers in order to finance big infrastructure projects.
The AM said that given the commitments already made to electrify the Swansea to Paddington line, as well as the South Wales valleys, new borrowing powers should be used to upgrade rail infrastructure in North Wales.
CLWYD SOUTH AM KEN SKATES, said:
“I’m delighted that in these tough times, the Welsh Government will have more financial clout with which to kick start the Welsh economy. Borrowing powers could help us finance important infrastructure investment to help our economy grow and expand in the long-term.
“Though it may take a little time for these new powers to take effect, one of the first projects we must see advanced is electrification of the North Wales mainline. Big commitments are already in place to electrify the South Wales line between Swansea and Paddington, as well as a major commitment to electrify the South Wales Valleys line.
“North Wales now deserves its fair share of infrastructure investment and by electrifying the mainline across North Wales we can make the long-term preparation to benefit from increased connectivity, quicker journey times and eventually High Speed Rail.
“This is vital because North Wales risks being left behind other regions of Wales and the UK if investment is not made in our transport network. Our regional economy still has a big manufacturing base and we must not put this at risk by not investing in the infrastructure business and the wider economy badly needs.
“The Transport Minister Carl Sargeant recently announced that the business case for will soon be put together for electrification of the North Wales mainline. Together with these new borrowing powers, we will soon have economic and financial power to ensure the project goes ahead.”
Decisions on the devolution of taxes – which could provide an appropriate revenue stream – will be made after the Silk Commission reports.
It has been agreed that the UK Government and Welsh Government should continue to explore the options for financing specific infrastructure projects, including the case for early access to borrowing powers in anticipation of a future independent revenue stream.
Both Governments agree that any borrowing powers should operate within the UK Government’s responsibility for delivering its fiscal mandate.