Editor's Viewpoint: Politicians must consider tax cut
The Ulster Bank's private sector survey for November shows that there was a fall in general business activity, at a rate not seen since April 2009. While unemployment increased, some companies decided to slash their prices despite inflation-fuelled costs.
Many firms have reported a decline in new orders, with as many as 44% experiencing this downward trend. Businesses have had to streamline workforces through redundancies.
Everyone from the boardroom to the shop floor knows that businesses are facing extremely tough times, and while the limited economic recovery in the rest of the UK has enabled firms to raise their prices for goods and services, this does not apply in Northern Ireland.
The message is clear - that everyone here has to do all they can to retain jobs and profitability.
It is no surprise that a group of leading businessmen, in a letter published in today's Belfast Telegraph, has called for a reduction in the province's corporation tax in order to make our commercial base more competitive.
It is hoped that a significant cut in corporation tax would attract significant new investments from overseas, and that this in turn would enable local firms to reinvest, as they would be able to retain more capital.
This campaign for a reduction in the level of our corporation tax has been continuing for some time, and the lack of response from the authorities becomes all the more remarkable.
The success of business in Northern Ireland cannot be maintained within a vacuum, and self-help measures are urgently needed at all levels. There should be no further delay on the belated announcement of a budget at Stormont.
Politicians are elected to make hard decisions, but the prevailing attitude at Stormont seems to be that if the politicians keep their heads down, the problems might just go away. That is not living in the real world.