14/01/2004

Industrial de-rating bad for economy warns Belfast City Council

Proposals to abolish the current policy of industrial de-rating will have a detrimental effect on the manufacturing sector and a knock on effect on the wider economy, Belfast City Council (BCC) has said.

Following a meeting on Tuesday with representatives of the Northern Ireland Manufacturing Focus Group (NIMFG), BCC said it had called on the Government to delay implementation of proposed de-rating legislation, to allow further assessment of the impact of the proposed legislation.

Speaking after the meeting, Councillor Ian Crozier, Chairman of the Council’s Development Committee, stressed the Council’s commitment to the development and growth of businesses in Belfast, in order to develop a balanced and sustainable economy.

“Belfast City Council believes that the proposed legislation, as it stands, will do much to make an already difficult market place even more difficult in which to work, and fears that it will lead to job losses which will make any financial gains from the rates negligible," Mr Crozier said.

“The Council recognizes the importance of the income generated by rates, and acknowledges that other businesses in the City, and across Northern Ireland, currently are subject to rates. However, the Council is equally concerned about the difficult trading environment in which the manufacturing sector currently working and the potential adverse effect of the current proposals."

Councillor Crozier also pointed out that, through its Local Economic Development Plan, BCC had agreed to commit £11 million over the next three years to support a range of local economic development initiatives. However, he said that the Council was concerned that developments such as industrial de-rating cancel out the impact of such investment.

Belfast City Council has already forwarded its formal response to the proposed legislation to the Department for Finance and Personnel, and has requested a meeting with the Minister, Ian Pearson, to discuss the issue, he added.

(MB)

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