Belfast Telegraph

Lower tax needed for investment, says industrialist

By Lesley Houston

True co-operation between Northern Ireland and the Republic demands an "even playing field" in terms of corporation tax, veteran industrialist Sir John Parker has said.

The Co Down man - who rose from an apprentice naval architect to a captain of world industry - said that within the context of the European Union the disparity between the tax on either side of the border was "incongruous".

"If co-operation means anything we should have a level playing field and there's no doubt if we had a lower corporation tax inward investment is much easier to attract," he said.

Northern Ireland businesses currently pay 21% in corporation tax, but the wheels are now in motion for Stormont to be able to set its own lower rate.

However, the current impasse caused by Sinn Fein's withdrawal of support of welfare reform has left the issue in limbo.

Sir John declined to comment on the political leaders' handling of the logjam, but said it was "wrong for politicians to focus on one thing alone".

"They should be looking at the totality, with the focus on the creation of jobs and education and training," he said.

To that end, Sir John - chairman of a multinational mining company - also said Northern Ireland needed a "clear industrial strategy" to mirror the British model, in which the government works in partnership with various sectors to deliver long-term economic plans.

He said Northern Ireland needed to foster "the strong entrepreneurial spirit that underpins society here".

Sir John spoke to the Belfast Telegraph at a Barclays-sponsored event at the Merchant Hotel.

Belfast Telegraph