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Murphy's comments on raising taxes 'will send shockwaves through business community and householders', says DUP's Frew

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Finance Minister Conor Murphy. Credit: BBC

Finance Minister Conor Murphy. Credit: BBC

Finance Minister Conor Murphy. Credit: BBC

Finance Minister Conor Murphy's comments around potentially raising taxes will "send shockwaves through the business community and every householder in this country", a DUP MLA has said.

Mr Murphy has proposed an independent fiscal commission to explore the case for more tax powers being devolved to Stormont.

Currently, Northern Ireland has the power to cut corporation tax, however that power has never been exercised as it would lead to a cut in the block grant from the Treasury.

Earlier this week Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled his budget, which he said would mean at extra £410m for Northern Ireland, however Mr Murphy stated core funding would only increase by £4m, as the remaining is Covid-related.

Speaking on the BBC's Sunday Politics programme, the Sinn Fein MLA said the budget will leave Northern Ireland only "treading water" and unable to progress projects and improve services.

He said the fiscal commission will look at the costs and benefits of more fiscal devolution powers, which could help provide more funding in the future. Mr Murphy was questioned as to whether he believes raising income taxes is part of the solution to Northern Ireland's financial pressures.

"I am saying that if we want to fund proper services the we have to look at ways to find the means to do that," he said.

"We're not getting that support from London at the moment. If that changes, [that's] all well and good, but I do think that the Executive should have fiscal levers at it's disposal. We have our own particular interests here, we have our own priorities here, we have our own particular economic circumstances here that need supported.

Asked if he thinks Northern Ireland should pay more basic-level income tax, Mr Murphy said: "No, I think people should pay a fair amount for the services that we provide. That's what income tax is about, people that can afford to pay, pay, and those who can't are supported through the various programs that we have."

The chair of Stormont's Finance Committee, the DUP's Paul Frew, however, said the powers already available to ministers should instead be examined.

"I think what's happened today, this morning, will send shockwaves through the business community and every householder in this country, if we're getting to the point where a Sinn Fein finance minister is looking at income-raising powers," he said.

"We have to look, first of all, at how we function as a government. We've really been doing the same thing for the past four years, so I would ask the finance minister to review and to reform what we do to make it more efficient and effective. But we also need to look at the powers we already have.

"The business community tells me all the time that the rates system is quite brutal as to how it's measured and how you pay. "

Belfast Telegraph


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