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Northern Ireland 'can't rely on corporation tax cut to boost economy'

By Margaret Canning

Published 11/11/2016

Chairman: Malachy McLernon
Chairman: Malachy McLernon

Northern Ireland needs radical economic options and cannot rely solely on lower corporation tax to improve its competitiveness after Brexit, it has been claimed.

Malachy McLernon, the chairman of the Chartered Institute of Taxation in Northern Ireland, said the province had to work on the assumption that Brexit was now inevitable.

He added that Northern Ireland also had to work hard to make sure it could compete with all EU members, particularly the Republic of Ireland.

Mr McLernon, a director at Newry-based accountancy firm PKF FPM, spoke ahead of the annual branch dinner of the institute tonight.

He said the inevitability of Brexit had to "sharpen minds... to develop radical options for growth and international competitiveness, with a greater emphasis on the opportunities that Brexit may present".

Benefits could include less red tape and a continued boost to exports and tourism from the fall in value of the pound.

"We may see more mergers and acquisitions with more interest in Northern Ireland from overseas," Mr McLernon said.

He added that his clients were calling out for certainty on what Brexit would mean, particularly with regard to access to the single market and potential trade barriers with our neighbours.

Mr McLernon also warned that Northern Ireland needed more than a lower rate of corporation tax to boost its competitiveness. The rate will be cut to 12.5% in April 2018, bringing it in line with the Republic.

He said: "A cut to corporation tax to make it competitive with the Republic of Ireland will help attract foreign direct investment and contribute to moving Northern Ireland from a public sector economy to a more dynamic and entrepreneurial one.

"While the cut in corporation tax is exciting, the North needs to offer more to witness the radical change that our members and their clients would like to see in the economy.

"There is widespread agreement that more can be done to drive down business costs and improve access to finance, (with) more promotion of employment with a greater investment in skills education.

"A determined effort to streamline tax legislation and make it cheaper and easier to comply with both with taxes devolved to Stormont and those that remain at Westminster has an important part to play in this.

"The cut to corporation tax should not be a standalone tool disengaged from the needs of the rest of the economy."

Belfast Telegraph

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