Belfast Telegraph

Scottish Yes vote could hurt future growth for Ulster firms

By Ann McGregor

There is no doubt that a vote for Scottish independence could present many issues for Northern Ireland.

Some of those issues are political, which will present challenges to the Northern Ireland Executive – however, many are economic.

Scotland is an important trading area for a large number of our businesses, particularly in the food and construction sectors.

Those businesses will find themselves dealing with two separate regulatory regimes, two different tax systems and, possibly, even an exchange rate – none of which would make business any easier.

We have also had a vibrant campaign to reduce corporation tax to make Northern Ireland more attractive to inward investors.

This campaign, which is still critical given the changes to selective financial assistance (SFA), could be damaged.

Northern Ireland is clearly different to Scotland.

We already have cross-party support for the devolution of corporation tax powers unlike Scotland, and there has also been a public consultation on the issue that produced over 75% support.

There has been no such consultation in Scotland.

It is also worth noting that the cost of reducing the corporation tax in Northern Ireland to a rate similar to that in Ireland is circa £300m per annum – in Scotland that cost would be more than £2bn.

Most importantly, the uncertainty is slowing down vital decisions in businesses, particularly regarding investment.

In the long term this impacts on business growth and employment.

Ann McGregor is CEO of Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce

Belfast Telegraph

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