Belfast Telegraph

Tax lobby group to put case for cuts to Stormont

By Symon Ross

The group behind a new push for a separate low rate of corporation tax in Northern Ireland is to present its case to Assembly members.

The Economic Reform Group (ERG), a group of economists, accountants and businessmen, will today meet the Committee for Enterprise Trade and Investment at Stormont and will next week address the Finance and Personnel Committee.

The group, led by Bombardier Shorts chairman Sir George Quigley, last month published a |report that suggested cutting the province’s corporate tax rate could help create an extra 90,000 |jobs over the next 20 years and attract high value foreign direct investment.

It believes a cut from the current 28% rate to a 12.5% rate in line with the Republic would be the quickest way to revitalise the economy.

University of Ulster economist Mike Smyth, part of the ERG, said it was “a good sign” that politicians were prepared to engage with the group. “The biggest stumbling block to this happening is not Treasury because if they win the election I think the Conservatives will push this hard,” he said.

“It is whether the Executive has the will to do this. We will have to ask Westminster to give us tax varying powers and that will not be an easy thing to do.”

Mr Smyth said that the group was not presenting its ideas as a “silver bullet” for the Northern Ireland economy and was expecting opposition.

But he believes the only way the economic situation will change is if local politicians take the initiative and consider potentially difficult ideas.

“We have to have the debate and it is encouraging these meetings are happening,” he said.

Belfast Telegraph