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20/03/2017

Other News In Brief

Call for Reduction In VAT On Tourism

The Northern Ireland Affairs Select Committee has called for a reduction in VAT on tourism.

SDLP South Down MP and chairperson of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Visitor Economy Margaret Ritchie welcomed the call and said it is a testament to the strength of the tourism industry in the North that despite economic adversity from the recession it saw sustained growth. With the imminent threat of Brexit, it is vital that the Government supports and nurtures this success through a meaningful incentive such as the reduction in Tourism VAT.

She said: "With our visitor's economy increasingly competing on a global scale, the extra costs created by our high VAT rate of 20% is encouraging tourists to holiday elsewhere. The issue is particularly acute in Northern Ireland, where we are competing more directly with hotels, restaurants and attractions in the south which are charged only 9% VAT.

"Reducing hospitality VAT would act as an effective catalyst for our economy, supporting local businesses, giving them increased fiscal flexibility and boosting opportunities by generating up to 8,500 new jobs. Cutting VAT for tourism would more than pay for itself by stimulating demand, and this additional money could be spent in improving the transport and broadband infrastructure that tourist areas need to succeed."

Work Starts On Resurfacing Scheme In Co Armagh
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Work has begun on a £200,000 road resurfacing scheme in Keady, Co Armagh.

The scheme on the Castleblaney Road will involve the resurfacing of two miles of road and where appropriate the reinstatement of drainage and verges.

From 7am Monday 20 March to 6pm on Saturday 8 April the road will be closed. Traffic is being diverted via A29 Darkley Road, A25 Blaney Road and R182 in Co Monaghan.

Concerns Raised Over Schools Budget Crisis

Ulster Unionist MLA Rosemary Barton has expressed her concern at the growing budget crisis facing Northern Ireland's schools.

The Fermanagh & South Tyrone MLA said: "By now all Northern Ireland schools should have received a letter from the Education Department. As a result of this latest dire warning many schools will be required to make further in-year cuts; adding to constraints which have been present for years.

"The current political stalemate has exacerbated the pressures on school budgets and with no Ministers in place to take strategic decisions, the situation will only continue to get worse.

"Most schools have already cut expenditure back to the bare minimum, with many also relying on the early retirement scheme to balance the books. But the courts have recently blocked that option for this year at least.

"Instead governors, staff, and parents now face weeks and months of uncertainty as an ever shrinking pot of money is expected to go further and further."

(CD/MH)

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