Belfast Telegraph

Jobs pipeline 'has deteriorated'

Invest NI's pipeline of new jobs has deteriorated, the economy minister said.

Companies are delaying expansion because of the global recession, Arlene Foster said. The last two months has seen a fall in the number of projects.

The economy is being retarded by a world slowdown, with the eurozone crisis over Greece and the slow pace of US recovery.

Mrs Foster said: "Invest NI has indicated that the pipeline is not as good as they would like it to be. A lot of people who were indicating that they were coming here either delayed or decided not to expand.

"Because of the general economy people are not expanding as quickly as we would like. Certainly the pipeline is not as good as we would like it to be. It has deteriorated because of global pressures."

According to the 2009/10 annual report of the jobs creation agency, the Northern Ireland Executive continues to place high priority on the economy, with an overarching goal of halving the private sector productivity gap with the UK average by 2015.

In 2009/10 the agency secured £687 million of investment commitments for which it offered over £182 million of support. It made 3,817 offers of assistance, a 12% like for like increase over the previous year, reflecting its response to the difficult economic conditions. A total of 93% of these offers were to locally-owned businesses.

The agency supported the creation of 4,307 jobs and helped safeguard a further 2,264.

The minister said reducing corporation tax to compete with the Republic of Ireland's rate of 12.5% for foreign direct investment represented a huge issue for her.

Ms Foster, who has been one of the strongest champions of taking local responsibility, added: "Corporation tax will bring a new focus on to Northern Ireland. Sammy (Wilson) is finding it hard to get behind the figures with the Treasury."

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