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Murphy not actively pursuing corporation tax cut for NI

The Finance Minister said his party believed a reduction could only happen if it was affordable.

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Conor Murphy (Brian Lawless/PA)

Conor Murphy (Brian Lawless/PA)

Conor Murphy (Brian Lawless/PA)

Stormont’s Finance Minister has said he is not actively pursuing a cut in Northern Ireland’s corporation tax rate.

The devolved legislature secured the power to set its own rate in 2015 after a long campaign involving politicians and business leaders.

The collapse of powersharing torpedoed plans to lower the tax applied on business profits in 2018.

Conor Murphy said the return of devolution means the prospects of a reduction have receded.

The debate on lowering tax centred on the potential boost it might deliver by attracting more investment to the region, balanced against the initial reduction in tax take, which would have seen a cut to Northern Ireland’s annual public funding grant from the Treasury.

Trade unions argued against a cut claiming it would have taken funding away from public services while bolstering the bank balances of major corporations.

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The power to set corporation tax rates was devolved to Northern Ireland in 2015 (Steve Parsons/PA)

The power to set corporation tax rates was devolved to Northern Ireland in 2015 (Steve Parsons/PA)

PA Archive/PA Images

The power to set corporation tax rates was devolved to Northern Ireland in 2015 (Steve Parsons/PA)

The plan had been to reduce the rate to 12.5% so it would be in line with the tax in the Irish Republic. The UK-wide rate was reduced during the campaign to devolve the power to Stormont, and it now sits at 19% nationally.

Mr Murphy said a cut could only happen if it was “affordable”.

“For Sinn Fein’s part, we always insisted that caveat be put in, a very honest assessment of what a cut would cost and what the impact on the public services would be,” he told BBC Radio Ulster.

“I think the issue probably has, given Brexit and given the change in economic and political circumstances… reduced in significance and we find ourselves struggling just to provide the basic public services.

“So I think issues like that certainly have receded.

“That’s not to say that others may not raise it again but it’s not something that I’m actively pursuing.”

PA