Amid much fanfare last July the WAG Minister for the Economy and our AM, Ieuan Wyn Jones launched his flagship "Economic Renewal Programme" (ERP), a fundamental rethink of WAG's economic development policies which, according to the bumf, aimed to make Wales "one of the best places to in the world to live and work".
The ERP is predicated upon moving away from a system of grants to one of repayable loans - something which I approve of. To do this the ERP superseded the Single Investment Fund (WAG's then central funding 'pot' for business support grants) which was then closed to new applicants on the same day that the ERP was announced.
Recently I made a Freedom of Information request to discover how many repayable loans had been made via the Economic Renewal Programme since its launch in July 2010.
Would anyone care to make a guess?
The answer is zero. Not a single repayable loan has been offered to a Welsh company in the seven months since the introduction of the ERP. Companies which were at an 'advanced stage' of their Single Investment Fund application were allowed further time to submit their applications by 31 August 2010 -- but since that date there has been no new business support funds available from WAG to any Welsh companies.
In other words despite the precariousness of the economic recovery, the Department for the Economy and Transport has effectively been a 'closed shop' for five months whilst it rearranges the deck chairs in setting up the sector panels which will eventually begin awarding repayable loans.
Remember that next time a Welsh company is in trouble and the Labour-Plaid coalition in Cardiff Bay points its finger at the Westminster government.