Belfast Telegraph

Stormont Executive a 'priority' to ensure Northern Ireland's economy doesn't falter

By John Mulgrew

Stormont must form a working Executive as a priority to ensure Northern Ireland's economy does not falter, businesses have said.

According to the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry and BDO, a working government, no hard border with the Republic and securing corporation tax are the three key areas when considering whether to grow business.

But the latest survey for the first quarter of the year says that "investment intentions remain weak in the wake of Brexit".

It says almost a third of companies quizzes said they are putting business growth plans on hold amid the current uncertainty.

The survey says while manufacturing is seeing its sales balance rise, exports have not picked up in line with the UK as a whole.

It says more manufacturers have taken on new staff in the last three months.

However, the Chamber says more than two thirds of companies are experiencing recruitment difficulties.

The service sector saw steady performance.

But most firms are continuing to feel the pressure of higher input costs, with manufacturers reporting rising raw material costs as having a pressure on prices.

Despite uncertainty over Brexit, 12% of firms are planning to grow as a result of the EU exit vote and 15% are planning to expand outside Northern Ireland.

"Overall the survey demonstrates the fact that there are longstanding structural issues here at home that we need to tackle to sustain success in the future," NI Chamber head of policy, Christopher Morrow said.

Brian Murphy, partner at BDO, said: "The latest results show that companies are maintaining their positive momentum from last year and there is a healthy confidence particularly when it comes to recruitment and remuneration."

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