Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Cameron's delay won't put an end to tax campaign

David Cameron with the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce President Mark Nodder

Prime Minister David Cameron's delay to a decision on whether to devolve Northern Ireland's tax setting powers has taken the steam out of the long-running campaign by business organisations here.

They want to cut the main rate of business tax here by more than half to 12.5% from 23% currently, the same rate as that in the Republic, but Mr Cameron said he won't make a decision on the issue until after the Scottish Referendum in 2014. Nevertheless, business groups haven't stopped campaigning on the issue.

At the recent CBI Northern Ireland dinner, the organisation's chairman Ian Coulter reiterated the need for tax setting powers to be devolved to Stormont.

"We, along with all the other members of the Business Alliance and Grow NI, remain firmly committed to taking the corporation tax debate to its conclusion over the next 18 months," he said.

Meanwhile, Mark Nodder, president of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce visited 10 Downing Street last week along with other members of the British Chambers of Commerce "to engage in an honest and open conversation with the Prime Minister about issues facing UK businesses".

He said the campaign on corporation tax remains at the top of the agenda but also advocated that Northern Ireland companies should look to other markets in an effort to boost business.

"Whilst we must ensure that the corporation tax issue remains a priority, Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce believes that Northern Ireland's future growth prospects as a regional economy are inextricably linked with its ability to grow the size of its export base.

"Northern Ireland has some excellent export success stories; however the Chamber is particularly concerned about the low levels of export with only 2% of Northern Ireland's registered business base actively exporting (1,700 businesses)."