29/05/2002

Minister launches NI business support partnership

James Leslie, Minister in the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister, has launched the Northern Ireland Business Support Partnership.

The Partnership will provide a regular forum, where Northern Ireland’s regulatory bodies and business representatives can meet to promote the business benefits of legal compliance and good customer care. It will also facilitate understanding of business concerns, support businesses in dealing with regulatory requirements and improve trust and understanding between the business community and Northern Ireland’s enforcement agencies.

The enforcement agencies taking part are the Inland Revenue, Environmental Health, Customs and Excise, Health and Safety Executive, DOE Planning Building Control, Food Standards Agency and the Trading Standards Service.

Mr Leslie said: "This is an important initiative, that brings together the business community and the local enforcement agencies and offers a real opportunity to build meaningful relationships.

"The Business Support Partnership has the potential to encourage competitiveness, reduce red tape, minimise the burden of regulation and help regulators target those who persist in flouting the law. It will also provide a level playing field on which honest businesses can compete."

Bill Jeffrey from the Federation of Small Businesses welcomed the launch of the Business Support Partnership. He said: "This Partnership offers small businesses an opportunity to tap into sources of advice and information on regulatory issues and will also allow the business community to comment on the impact regulations are having on them. I would encourage businesses to become active partners in it."

Victor Haslett, President of the Northern Ireland Chamber Of Commerce and Industry also endorsed the partnership initiative. Mr Haslett said: "This is a welcome initiative, which will help our members met the challenge of dealing with regulation, freeing them to concentrate their efforts in supplying top class goods and services to the community."

The NI Business Support Partnership is being established in line with the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment’s commitments under the Consumer Strategy for Northern Ireland.

The Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Federation of Small Businesses have actively participated in its development.

The Partnership is expected to meet two to three times per year, with the first meeting scheduled to take place in late June.

(SP)

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