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Business chiefs in call for tax cut

The heads of Northern Ireland's leading businesses have joined the call for a reduction in the province's corporation tax.

In a letter published in today's Belfast Telegraph, 16 of the country's top business leaders say Northern Ireland would be "a much more competitive location for both international and local investment" if corporation tax was lowered to match the Republic's 12.5% rate.

Managing director of FG Wilson, Mark Sweeney, BT's chief executive officer Graham Sutherland, Sir William Hastings, the chairman of Hastings Hotels, Adrian Toner, chief operator officer of First Derivatives, Mark Nodder, managing director of WrightBus and Michael Ryan, vice-president and general manager of Bombardier Aerospace are among those who put their names to the letter in support of devolving corporation tax powers to Stormont.

The business chiefs said: "The Northern Ireland economy faces significant structural challenges and offers insufficient job opportunities for our young people."

They said a reduced rate of business tax would attract "substantial additional foreign direct investment" and encourage firms to reinvest as they keep more capital.

For this reason, the company leaders believe lowering the rate provides the "best opportunity to help transform the economy and create a significant increase in jobs across the private sector".

They are the latest prominent Northern Ireland figures to call for the tax adjustment.

At the end of last month, a coalition of business figures sent an open letter to Chancellor George Osborne asking him to allow Northern Ireland to set its own corporation tax rate.

Representatives from CBI, Institute of Directors, Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Northern Ireland Independent Retail Trade were among those who came together to urge the government to introduce the measure.

The letter cited a claim from the Northern Ireland Economic Reform Group that reform would create 90,000 jobs over 20 years.