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Devolution of corporation tax powers affected by Stormont impasse

The date for devolving corporation tax powers to Northern Ireland may slip, Stormont's finance department said, following the collapse of powersharing.

Ministers intended to cut the corporation rate from the UK-wide 20% to 12.5% in 2018 after securing the tax-setting power from Westminster.

Ministers have not met as an executive since mid-winter and Sinn Fein's former deputy first minister Martin McGuinness resigned in protest at the DUP's handling of a botched green energy scheme.

A statement from the Department of Finance said: "W e recognise the fact that the conditions for implementation are not in place at the present time and as a result the proposed implementation date of April 2018 may now slip.

"It will be for incoming ministers to decide on the steps needed to confirm the timing of introduction of the reduced rate and agree an implementation plan."

The measure is intended to encourage inward investment and compete with the Republic of Ireland's ultra-low rate.

By 2020 the UK-wide rate is planned to fall to 17%, narrowing the advantage for Northern Ireland.

The statement said the finance and economy departments were committed to the introduction of a reduced corporation tax rate of 12.5% in line with the commitment by the political parties in the Fresh Start Agreement, which is still guiding the activities of government jobs creation agency Invest NI in promoting foreign direct investment.

Ulster Unionist Assembly member Steve Aiken said: "The collapse of the executive earlier this year and the disgrace of entering a financial year without having a budget in place had already severely knocked investor confidence.

"Now having no functioning government in place during the triggering of Article 50, with unelected officials having to admit that previous key executive policies will be delayed, this is the latest in a long line of disgraces.

"It is absolutely imperative that a new executive is formed.

"No longer is just the belligerent pride of the DUP and Sinn Fein at risk, their prevarication and politicking is having a detrimental impact on the Northern Ireland economy."

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