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Cut in tax rate 'must remain a priority' for Northern Ireland


Frustrated: Eamonn Donaghy

Frustrated: Eamonn Donaghy

Frustrated: Eamonn Donaghy

The lowering of corporation tax must remain a priority for Northern Ireland's politicians despite the Stormont stalemate, it has been claimed.

Eamonn Donaghy of Grow NI - which has lobbied for a cut in the rate - said he believed Northern Ireland could have its long-campaigned lower business tax rate, despite the "frustration and lack of progress" at Stormont.

The devolution of corporation tax to the Northern Ireland Assembly has already gone through Westminster, with the powers due to come into effect as early as April 2017.

But that's dependent on agreement over welfare reform and the Stormont House Agreement.

And the current impasse has also led to the cancellation of a major Invest NI trip to the US in order to sell and promote the advantages the devolution of corporation tax could have on business here.

"If they manage to sort it out, then by definition it has been agreed and should be brought forward," Mr Donaghy said.

"The business community is fed up and frustrated with the lack of progress.

"Politicians are running it at their own speed and agendas and there is a lack of statesmanship, focusing instead on their own political interests and not on the wider community.

"We have the power to do this and the legislation is in place. All we need to do is set a rate.

"But the longer you wait, the less impact there is. It is all doable.

"What's frustrating is a lack of political agreement.

"This time last year, I was frustrated we wouldn't get the legislation and frustrated nothing happened over the summer.

"But there is no real alternative and we have to sort this out ourselves."

PwC chief economist Esmond Birnie said: "It's been confirmed we are not going to be nearly ready for 2017.

"The whole world will have changed then, and we aren't comparing to things as they were.

"Corporation tax will be lower in the UK by then, and it will be a different world."

And Stephen McCully, president of Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: "The business community is still pushing hard for a lower rate of corporation tax."

Belfast Telegraph