Belfast Telegraph

Taxation devolution 'game changing'

The devolution of "game changing" corporation tax powers cannot be allowed to flounder because of a lack of political agreement on the past, business leaders have warned.

Kevin Kingston, president of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce, said parties must show a willingness to co-operate to reach agreement on difficult issues if the region is to prosper.

Mr Kingston said: "With the powers now sitting firmly in our hands, our politicians must grasp this opportunity whilst using the two years prior to the implementation of the new tax rate to ensure that we maximise the opportunity.

"The crucial point when it comes to the corporation tax decision is that corporation tax is an investment in the private sector to grow new opportunities and to put new jobs on the ground for all of our communities. The price of doing nothing, of focusing solely on the past and ignoring the opportunity of the future is - for the business community - unthinkable."

Eamon Donaghy from the business lobby group Grow NI said, although argument for corporation tax had been won, it was up to politicians to deliver .

He said: "The argument for devolution of this power has now been accepted by all the main UK and Northern Ireland parties so it is up to our leaders here to ensure that this important economic lever is delivered.

"It is clear that jobs growth in Northern Ireland will only come from the private sector. Political leaders, trades union leaders and business leaders have a responsibility to work together to deliver jobs security and economic prosperity to future generations. By working together we will ensure benefits for our entire society."

According to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), the onus is firmly on the five-party power-sharing Executive to deliver on contentious issues like welfare reform.

RICS Northern Ireland Director, Ben Collins, said: "Whilst we would have preferred movement now, we do welcome the Chancellor's comments about his support for the devolution of powers over corporation tax to Northern Ireland. The onus is now on the Executive to demonstrate that it can make progress on key issues like welfare reform."

The Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade Association (NIIRTA) said the devolution of corporation powers could be "game changing" and appealed for urgent political agreement.

Glyn Roberts, NIIRTA chief executive, said: "It is very welcome that the UK Government has indicated that they are in principle willing to devolve corporation tax. It is now critical that the current talks reach a successful conclusion to ensure that these game changing powers are transferred to the Northern Ireland Executive.

"Coming on the back of Corporation Tax reduction, more foreign direct investment will lead to more jobs which will be a big long term boost in spending for our local retail sector."

Meanwhile, Aodhan Connolly, director of the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium, said corporation tax powers should not be seen as a "wonder solution".

He said: "We note the approval in principle from the UK Government decision to devolve control over corporation tax to Northern Ireland and pledge to work constructively to ensure it is implemented in a sensible and cost effective manner.

"It must be remembered though, that corporation tax is not a magic bullet for the challenges facing retail and our high streets.

"What is clear is that there is a need for a fundamental reform of business taxation and we will be requesting a meeting with the minister to start a meaningful dialogue on how we can play an integral part in his promise of a review of the rates system post the 2015 revaluation."

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