Peter Black, the Welsh Liberal Democrat Assembly Member for South Wales West, has accused the Labour and Plaid Cymru Government of failing the Welsh economy, as new figures show the country’s performance falling back, despite the investment of millions of pounds of European money.
Mr. Black was responding to news that in 2008 Wales had a GDP of just 85% of the EU average, down from 86.9% in 2007. The performance in West Wales and the Valleys had slipped from 73.4% to just 71%, and East Wales had gone down from 110.3% to 108%. Wales was the only UK region to see an area fall below 75% of the average GDP. In contrast, the UK average stood at 116.7%, up from 115% in 2007.
“Under Labour and latterly Plaid Cymru, Wales’ economic performance has fallen back in comparison to the rest of the United Kingdom,” said Mr. Black. “We started off as one of the poorest parts of the UK and we are now firmly entrenched in that position. That is a woeful record. We are now on a par with areas like Yugozapaden in Bulgaria.
“Labour and Plaid Cymru have spent millions of pounds of European money without making any impact on that situation. They have failed to invest in new industries and new skills that will attract high quality jobs to Wales. It is important that they put this right as soon as possible.
“Welsh Liberal Democrats have suggested one solution, which is a innovation fund to kickstart research and help to transform it into new businesses. Such a model is already working successfully on a smaller scale with the University of Wales. If we do not start to grow the private sector then Wales will remain at the bottom of the league in terms of its economic performance.”