Belfast Telegraph

FSB demands entire country is turned into an Enterprise Zone

By Clare Weir

A business organisation has slammed proposals to designate Londonderry city centre as an Enteprise Zone.

The Federation of Small Businesses has said that the plan, which would include a number of business-friendly incentives, should be applied to all of Northern Ireland and not just individual towns and cities.

The plans were first mooted last year and Chancellor George Osborne announced in the recent Budget that one zone would be established in Northern Ireland.

The FSB, which represents 8,000 members in Northern Ireland, has instead repeated its call for the entire province to be made an Enterprise Zone rather than one single district or city centre.

Roger Pollen, FSB head of external affairs, said that the arguments being made to support the case for Derry to be designated an Enterprise Zone are just as strong when applied to almost any part of Northern Ireland.

"The real problem is that Northern Ireland as a whole is uncompetitive and needs a dramatic overhaul if it is to grow the private sector," he said.

"The creation of individual Enterprise Zones, scattered across the province, would only serve to create greater problems as some areas benefit from incentives whilst neighbouring areas suffer distortions and unhelpful internal competition.

"Instead, the FSB is calling for a package of ... initiatives that will benefit the whole of Northern Ireland as it competes with the rest of the UK, the Republic and beyond."