07/11/2002

Political crisis threatens confidence, investment and jobs

Three-quarters of Northern Ireland business leaders say the collapse of the Good Friday Agreement would destroy business confidence.

The unexpected result was part of a BBC Northern Ireland Business Day Poll survey which also revealed that if current levels of violence escalate, half of local employers would postpone planned investment or cut jobs.

Carried out by business advisors PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) as part of the BBC's Business Day poll, the report revealed that the majority of the 500 Northern Ireland CEOs and business leaders surveyed supported devolution for the province.

Eight out of ten said Assembly control of economic strategy was the best option to grow the Northern Ireland economy while employers said that devolution, backed by political stability; peace and foreign direct investment were the keys to future economic prosperity.

The result of the survey clearly indicates that business leaders in the Province want the economy at the top of the political agenda with control of the economy in the hands of local politicians.

BBC Business Correspondent, James Kerr, said: "The BBC survey confirms that political and security stability are inextricably linked with business confidence, investment and jobs."

The poll also revealed that short-term business confidence was low, and that fewer than three out of ten CEOs believed the economy would improve in 2003, most said that it would stay the same or deteriorate.

All-Ireland business links are also high on the local business agenda - nearly 70% of Northern Ireland business leaders say local businesses should develop closer ties with the Irish economy.

(MB)

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