Sir Richard Needham says Northern Ireland is not well governed
An ex-direct rule minister has claimed Northern Ireland is not well governed, creating problems for its economy.
Sir Richard Needham was a Conservative MP at the Northern Ireland Office for 10 years from 1985, including time as trade minister.
He made the comments in an interview with BBC's Inside Business programme
He said: "The major problem that I see is Northern Ireland is not very well governed for all sorts of historical and political reasons.
"What should be done to modernise and improve the public sector is not done and also to help the private sector become more competitive."
The region has wanted to re-balance its economy for years.
The idea is to be less dependent on the public sector for jobs and grow the private sector.
As part of spending cuts, the Northern Ireland Executive will soon began a process of 20,000 redundancies in years ahead.
Invest NI has also had record success in recent years promoting new jobs.
But Sir Richard told Inside Business: "We should be able to construct an economic strategy for Northern Ireland which can turn it into a mini Hong Kong but it is not going about it the right way."
He felt part of the problem was high energy costs.
Larger businesses are paying among the highest bills in Europe.
He said: "Politicians in Northern Ireland shrink away from giving people the facts about the problems confronting the Northern Ireland economy and energy policy is a crucial element to this.
"If you do not get that right you are not going to get inward investment."
Inside Business will be broadcast on BBC Radio Ulster at 13:30 GMT on Sunday 1 February 2015