Belfast Telegraph

'It's time to level tax playing field' says Republic's finance minister

Republic's finance chief Noonan backing call for corporation rate parity

The Irish government has thrown its weight behind the campaign to reduce the business tax rate in Northern Ireland.

The Republic's finance minster Michael Noonan said a more favourable tax regime north of the border would be of benefit to both regions and help attract overseas investment.

He praised the work of Invest NI in attracting global companies to Northern Ireland but said his own investment agency, the Irish Development Agency (IDA), was well aware the role the Republic's 12.5% corporation tax played in providing a carrot to international investors.

That rate, well below the 23% big business tax rate in Northern Ireland, is said to have helped attract the likes of Google and Facebook to set up bases in the Republic.

"Our IDA often refers to the three Ts when marketing Ireland as a destination for foreign multinational – Talent, Track Record and Tax," Mr Noonan said at the CBI's annual lunch in Titanic Belfast.

"I know that the focus for many here is on the third T – corporation tax. Like in the tourism sector, I am of the view that by working together we can deliver real benefit.

"That is why we fully support your application for a 12.5% corporate tax rate."

A decision on the application, which has seen the Executive ask Westminster to devolve tax-setting powers to Stormont, has been put on hold until after the Scottish Referendum in September next year.

Mr Noonan also made mention of the National Asset Management Agency (Nama) which he said remains a key player in the property market both in Northern Ireland and the Republic.

And he pointed to Nama's "social agenda", one that was highlighted exclusively in the Belfast Telegraph last week in news revealing the agency had sold 31 apartments at College Court Central in King Street in Belfast and 20 at Throne View in Newtownabbey to Oaklee Housing Association.

"While the primary objective of Nama is to achieve the best financial return for the State from the assets entrusted to it, Nama also has a social agenda," Mr Noonan said.

"I welcome that Nama is working to deliver social housing in Northern Ireland where commercially feasible and I note that recent decisions have been covered positively in the media."

And when it comes to the future of the economy across the island of Ireland, he urged optimistic caution.

"The recovery is well under way. We must learn the lessons of our past and tackle the legacy issues that we all face.

"However, one thing that has remained consistent throughout the crisis is that we must trade our way to recovery," he said.

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