Green Party opposes cutting corporation tax in Northern Ireland
Reducing corporation tax would cost £330 million in cuts to Northern Ireland's public services at a time when more funding is needed for health and education, the Green Party has said.
Its manifesto called for "intelligent investment" in small local businesses and cooperatives instead of global giants and the promotion of a "living wage" and green technology.
As part of the Stormont House Agreement, Northern Ireland ministers are due to take powers to set corporation tax from London in a bid to compete for foreign direct investment with the Republic of Ireland where a lower rate of duty applies.
The document said: "The Green Party opposes their cosy consensus to reduce corporation tax as it will mean imposing an extra £330 million per year of cuts to public services on top of those that have been imposed by the coalition government.
"Public and private sectors should not be set against each other in a zero-sum game.
"Without public investment in health, education and infrastructure such as roads and communications, even the best private companies would shrivel and collapse.
"Rather than see public and private as separate, opposed sectors, we recognise their interdependence.
"Rather than impose still more colossal public cuts while giving away tax breaks to multinational corporations, the Green Party in Northern Ireland calls for intelligent investment in the social and physical infrastructure of our society.
"We also believe in directing government support towards small local businesses and co-operatives, rather than global corporations, to allow the grassroots of our economy to flourish."
Stormont ministers have said a reduction from the current 21% rate to 12.5% from April 2017 could promote the creation of 38,000 new jobs by 2033.
A cut in corporation tax would mean less revenue collected for the Treasury.
European rules mean Stormont would have to hand back a chunk of its annual budget from the Exchequer to make up for that.
Devolving the power to set the rate depends on politicians agreeing on welfare reform after Sinn Fein withdrew its support earlier this year.
Other key points in the Green Party Northern Ireland manifesto, launched in Belfast on Thursday, included:
- Ending austerity because it was hitting the disabled, women and children the hardest;
- Supporting a bill preventing corporate tax dodging.
- Promoting a living wage;
- Creating jobs in low carbon technologies and reducing fuel poverty through investment in energy efficient housing.
It is running five candidates, including leader Steven Agnew who is standing in North Down.
He said: "The Green Party believes that we need a new model of government, one which prioritises the common good for the people it serves through a renewed investment in public services, a living wage and developing new green industry.
"As we have seen over the past number of years, the public services that underpin our health and well-being, education, training and the infrastructure we rely on, have been cut again and again.
"These cuts are affecting the most vulnerable in our society.
"Yet the traditional parties appear to be set on introducing even more.
"This cannot go on."
He said the Greens were seeking a more equal society.
The manifesto said: "Well-funded, first class public services ought to be seen as a democratic right in themselves, as they underpin our health and wellbeing, our education and training, and the infrastructure we rely on as we go about our daily business - public and private - throughout our lives."