Progress is still slow but at least PM set deadline
Over the last five years, there has been much discussion about the Assembly getting legislative powers to lower the corporation tax rate in Northern Ireland to a level similar to that in the Republic of Ireland.
A significant body of research proves that economic growth and increased foreign direct investment are consistently present in countries that offer lower corporation tax, which in turn leads to increased levels of employment and higher living standards.
Despite the clear benefits, progress on this issue has been slow but, very importantly, in June the Prime Minister made a commitment that he will take a final decision on this issue after the Scottish independence referendum in September 2014.
Indeed, should the Prime Minister decide to devolve corporation tax-varying powers to the Northern Ireland Assembly, he has committed to doing so in a special act of parliament to ensure this matter becomes law prior to the dissolution of the parliament in Westminster in March 2015.
We are now closer to a final decision on this issue than we ever have been.
This is the first time that a definitive timetable has been committed to and whilst the final outcome is dependent on the referendum in Scotland, one feels that should the people in Scotland vote to stay in the United Kingdom, there is a very strong prospect of the Northern Ireland Assembly getting the power to set a lower corporation tax rate.
A low rate of corporation tax will not by itself make the Northern Ireland economy stronger; however it will be a game-changer in facilitating an economic turnaround.
The current green shoots of recovery need all the help they can get.