30/11/2010

Businesses 'Tax' Politicians Over Budget

As NI business leaders united to call for corporation tax to be reduced to make NI more competitive, there was little sign of such a united front on resolving NI's pressing need for an agreed overall economic budget.

While remaining the only UK region not to have agreed a post Spending Review agreement on financial affairs, there was little sign of a deal.

Despite the First Minister Peter Robinson (pictured) saying that he believes the NI parties want to negotiate an agreed budget and there is serious engagement on the matter, the Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has said his party "would not be rushed into making a decision that failed the community".

Mr Robinson was asked by the SDLP's Declan O'Loan if groups funded by the Stormont Executive might have to send out 90-day protective redundancy notices to staff should no deal be reached and he said this was a further reason why it was important to get a political deal on the budget before Christmas.

Mr O'Loan said a budget had to be agreed as a matter of urgency.

"The two main parties need to get down to business, start drawing up a budget and stop dithering," he said.

Earlier this month, DUP Finance Minister Sammy Wilson warned time was running out to reach agreement on a budget.

He said he wanted a decision by the end of November to allow proper scrutiny and consultation.
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This lack of agreement was highlighted today when organisations including CBI Northern Ireland, the Institute of Directors and the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce wrote a letter to MLAs and the Secretary of State, Owen Paterson, demanding a move on corporation tax.

It is currently 20% in the UK, compared to 12% in the Republic of Ireland.

Business leaders claim corporation tax is the "fastest and best way" to bring lasting well-paid jobs to Northern Ireland.

"We believe that a reduction in CT is the fastest way to rebalance and grow the NI economy and create jobs," the letter said.

"Without reform, the NI economy will continue to be untenable and over dependent on GB taxpayers."

The DUP First Minister Peter Robinson is in broad agreement with the business heads and has met Treasury Minister Mark Hoban and Owen Paterson about the Republic of Ireland's bailout and the possibility of cutting corporation tax in Northern Ireland as the lower level of corporation tax in the Republic is to remain despite its economic difficulties.

Mr Robinson said: "Therefore, if they (the Republic) are getting money but not changing their corporation tax, that means that there is a requirement on the Treasury to ensure that Northern Ireland does have power to reduce its level of corporation tax."

See: Corporation Tax Reform To Create 'Competition'

(BMcC/KMcA)

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