Belfast Telegraph

'Real progress' on corporation tax

Real progress has been made on the corporation tax issue in Northern Ireland, it was claimed.

Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers said the Prime Minister would receive the findings of a Treasury/Executive working group inquiry within weeks.

She addressed a meeting of the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly in Glasgow.

"A great deal of work has been done on this by the Treasury and the Executive in the working group chaired by David Gauke. Some real progress has been made and we now know the broad shape of what a devolved corporation tax regime for Northern Ireland might look like," she said.

"There are still important alternatives to consider and issues to be resolved before the Government can decide in principle whether or not to proceed, but we will take stock, write up our findings and reporting them to the Prime Minister in the next few weeks."

Stormont First Minister Peter Robinson and deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness have agreed recommendations with the Treasury that would allow Belfast to compete with the 12.5% rate set by Dublin for the Republic.

The final meeting between the Executive and Treasury was held last week. Mr Cameron now faces a political decision over whether he wants to devolve power over corporation tax to Stormont.

The Northern Ireland Secretary said the Government had brought down the main rate of corporation tax from 28% to 24% and by the end of this parliament it will be 22%.

Ms Villiers acknowledged the distinctive challenges facing the Northern Ireland economy.

"We are over-dependent on the public sector, and unemployment and economic inactivity need to come down, especially amongst young people," she said.

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