Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 23 October 2014

Corporation tax fight must go on

Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness came away from their meeting with David Cameron with widely differing views on what they had learned.

Mr Robinson obviously feels that there is still a chance Northern Ireland will gain autonomy over corporation tax, allowing the Assembly to lower the rate to levels approaching that in the Republic. Mr McGuinness feels the measure is dead in the water.

It is obviously impossible to say who is correct, although sources close to Westminster say it was significant Mr Cameron did not rule out any movement on corporation tax and instead promised to give a final decision after the Scottish independence referendum. The referendum is a ticklish problem for Westminster and those parties there with MPs north of the border. Mr Cameron would not want to be seen to favour a different region of the UK over the Scots. Nevertheless, this newspaper firmly believes that lower corporation tax is a vital game-changing measure for an ailing economy that desperately needs a sharp shock to kick it back into life.

While Mr Cameron's suggestions – which have yet to be hammered out in detail – of more capital funding and special arrangements for enterprise zones in the province are welcome, they will not provide the sort of stimulus required to create jobs and boost earning power.

This newspaper will continue to campaign passionately for corporation tax-varying powers to be given to the Assembly even if it is difficult to maintain optimism such a measure will be granted.

We believe it is the right thing to do and will enable us to compete with the Republic in the quest for new investment. But we also believe that other initiatives need to be taken such as investment in fracking or new technologies like wind power which would provide jobs and lower power and fuel costs. We simply cannot allow the present economic stagnation to continue.

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