Belfast Telegraph

We need certainty over corporation tax, Chamber tells Assembly inquiry

By Margaret Canning

The Executive must set a "rate and a date" for a reduced level of corporation tax, the Chamber of Commerce has said.

In evidence to the Assembly's enterprise, trade and investment committee, the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry said businesses needed certainty around corporation tax devolution.

But its chief executive Ann McGregor said changes to the tax regime would require extra skills requirements.

Northern Ireland is set to have the power to set a lower rate of corporation tax - expected to be 12.5% in line with the Republic's rate, compared with the UK-wide 20% - after a lengthy campaign.

The Chamber also said Northern Ireland's early-stage economic recovery was a "first crucial step" on a more positive road.

President Kevin Kingston said recovery was in place, with growth of around 2.2% forceast for this year. But he said it had not yet been accompanied by parallel improvements in wages, productivity or living standards.

Research last week said household incomes here were 4% below their pre-recession level - the sharpest fall of anywhere in the UK.

But Mr Kingston said there was evidence of recovery, particularly from jobs growth, with the number of people in employment rising at a rate close to the record growth experienced in the decade to 2008.

But the Chamber said there was "more to be done", including making sure policies were fit for the long term, and that government and business worked together well. The Chamber also said a stable political environment would inspire business confidence.

The Chamber's appearance was part of the committee's 'inquiry into growing the economy and creating jobs in a reduced tax environment'.

Committee chairman Patsy McGlone said: "The event gave the committee the opportunity to meet with business leaders and key stakeholders to discuss areas of concern, as well as potential solutions. Businesses of all sizes in all sectors need to be encouraged to grow as we prepare for a new era of low corporation tax."

"It is essential that we work to resolve areas of concern, as well as develop an integrated approach to developing the economy so that Northern Ireland can welcome businesses and compete to become one of the most hi-tech, skills-centred and well-connected regions in Western Europe."

Issues raised during the event will inform recommendations given to the Executive.

Belfast Telegraph

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