Belfast Telegraph

Consultation on tax powers welcomed

Reducing corporation tax to encourage investment could make Northern Ireland less dependent on the rest of the UK, the First Minister has said.

Peter Robinson welcomed the Treasury consultation on handing the Executive powers to vary the tax rate as a good news day for Northern Ireland.

A string of other political figures also applauded the move as progress.

Mr Robinson said: "It is not in the interests of Northern Ireland to be the beggars of the UK. It is not in the interests of Northern Ireland to be dependent on the Exchequer for further new growth within our own economy."

He added Northern Ireland should become a contributor rather than relying on hand outs.

"We have crossed the Rubicon to some extent. It is not a done deal but we are now talking about the detail rather than the principle and that is real progress," he added.

Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury David Gauke said the consultation reflected the commitment to meeting economic challenges which Northern Ireland faces including the legacy of the conflict and the region's proximity to the low-tax Republic of Ireland.

"It may well be the case that a lower rate of corporation tax in Northern Ireland can play a significant part in helping to strengthen the economy," he said.

He added: "This consultation is a real opportunity for the people of Northern Ireland to talk this issue through, to balance these costs and risks with the potential transformative effects of lower corporation tax rates. It is a chance for Northern Ireland to set its own principles and priorities and to play a more direct role in determining the competitiveness of its economy."

Executive Finance Minister Sammy Wilson said the Government's consideration of the benefits anticipates a single increase in the level of investment here in the early years and not the increasing investment and growth year on year that other commentators on this issue have predicted.

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