Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Our economy still is a taxing issue

Us economic envoy Declan Kelly certainly brought a bit of American attitude to the province yesterday with his tough talk on how businesses can turn the recession around. It was up to them to come up with the right ideas if they wanted to succeed. If they didn't get backing for their proposals then they should draw up new plans. That is the American ideal of entrepreneurship and the best companies follow that motto of try and try again until they win.

But he was wrong to call on businesses - or anyone else - to stop complaining about the banks. Some might argue that the banks have got off very lightly considering how deeply in hock some of them are to taxpayers who bailed them out. There is righteous public anger at the way the banks have behaved since the economic crash. Yet again they are paying huge bonuses at a time when everyone else is facing austerity because of the huge national deficit brought about in large part by bad banking practices.

Even the Coalition Government at Westminster is rowing back frantically from its original position of forcing the banks to be more prudent when it comes to dispensing bonuses, and there is also no evidence that regulation of the banks has become tighter.

Mr Kelly, however, did give his backing to a lowering of corporation tax in Northern Ireland as an incentive to foreign investors to move here. While it is not the only economic stimulus that could be introduced, it is one which could be implemented speedily if there was the political will to do so.

Some people have questioned the political impact of such a move - other regions of the UK would want a similar incentive - or even the morality of creating a tax haven. Yet an equalisation of the rate with the Republic would give job-creation agencies here a much-needed boost and kick start the long process of rebalancing the province's economy. Then we might have a greater entrepreneurial zeal.

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