Wales

No false hope from Business Minister Edwina Hart

Official figures show Wales has the poorest performing economy in the UK.

The woman charged with turning it around over the next five years, the new Business Minister Edwina Hart, has given her first interviews on the role.

So what is she going to do? Her predecessor Ieuan Wyn Jones brought in two major policies: a move away from business grants and a focus on six sectors.

They will become a central part of her efforts as well.

The door is still being kept open for some grants but the focus on six sectors - advanced manufacturing, biosciences, creative industries, energy, financial services and IT - is considered critical.

Edwina Hart is even looking at whether to add construction, tourism and agriculture to the list.

Another clear message from her about trying to manage expectations.

She says one of her first jobs is not to give out false hopes of what can be achieved by the government at Cardiff Bay, which she says after all is a "regional government on the edge of Europe".

Unlike her previous job as health minister pulling the strings of the NHS in Wales, the business brief is vulnerable to factors well out of her control like taxation, interest and the state of the global economy.

Despite this, she denied that previous assembly governments had over-promised on the economy but she said the latest financial settlement from the UK Government had focused minds on what can really be delivered.

In terms of style, I suspect she will operate in a different way to Ieuan Wyn Jones.

His mantra was not to micro-manage the economy but create the conditions for firms to operate.

From today's interview, it struck me that Edwina Hart is a minister who may look to get involved in the very micro-managing details Mr Jones looked to avoid.

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