Belfast Telegraph

PfG seeks 25,000 new jobs, more visitors and tax cut

By Paul Gosling

More than 25,000 new jobs will be created in Northern Ireland, if plans in the Programme for Government (PfG) are successful.

The programme also seeks to attract £300m from foreign direct investment (FDR), increase the value of manufacturing exports by 15%, stimulate £300m in indigenous research and development and increase visitor numbers. The Executive intends that by 2020, there will be 4.5 million visitors a year to Northern Ireland, supporting more than 50,000 jobs.

For the first time, the Executive also made a clear pledge in the PfG to seek the devolution of corporation tax rates and to cut these to a level that is competitive with the Irish Republic.

However, Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said that the eurozone crisis meant that implementing the PfG’s economic strategy was going to be difficult.

“With that in mind, our overarching goal remains the pressing need to strengthen our competitiveness through a focus on export-led growth,” she explained.

“To achieve this we will continue to prioritise the need to deepen and diversify our export base in order to increase employment and wealth across Northern Ireland.

“There are certain sectors and markets where we believe we have the greatest potential to succeed. At the same time, we recognise the need to be responsive to new national and international market opportunities.”

She added: “Rebalancing and rebuilding the economy are the twin goals we have identified in order to become more competitive and we have outlined a range of actions and investments to achieve this. We have also included targets to monitor our performance.

“This is an ambitious strategy and one that requires a partnership approach, from the Executive and public sector, as well as companies and the workforce within the private, community and voluntary sectors.

“I would encourage all stakeholders to take the time to carefully consider and respond to this document and play their part in helping us deliver the right economic strategy for Northern Ireland.”

Belfast Telegraph