Northern business body calls for lower corporation tax


Bringing corporation tax in the North at least in line with the Republic is a key factor in Northern Ireland breaking out of the recession, the head of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce, Mark Nodder, made clear last night.

Business risk had to be encouraged and rewarded and the best way to do this was to reduce corporation tax and provide companies with greater long-term financial incentive to invest in growth, Mr Nodder said at Belfast City Hall.

“Recovery will come, and we do not want to be left in the starting blocks,” he told more than 450 business people attending the president’s banquet of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce. The guest speaker was BBC Radio 4 Today presenter and Mastermind quizmaster John Humphrys.

Mr Nodder, general manager of the successful Wright Group of bus-builders in Ballymena, Co Antrim, and president of the NI Chamber of Commerce, said attempts to bring corporation tax to at least the 12.5 per cent level of the Republic were an example of the business sector and the Northern Executive working together.

British prime minister David Cameron is still considering whether to allow the Executive have the power to set its own rate of corporation tax.

Mr Nodder emphasised that this was a vital issue. “The fate of this particular campaign still hangs in the balance, and the continued uncertainty about the timing, and implications, of the devolution of tax-setting powers casts a long shadow over prospects for economic recovery,” he said.

Stimulate growth

Mr Nodder hoped British chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne would stimulate growth in his autumn statement next month and warned of the danger of economic stasis if the British coalition government’s austerity measures continued. Quoting former Israeli prime minister Golda Meir, he said: “We cannot afford the luxury of pessimism.”

“The coalition government seems to cling to its austerity policy as if we just need to keep taking the medicine and one day soon we’ll get better.”

He called for a “radical overhaul” of the way the Executive functioned and predicted economic recovery would come

DUP Minister of Enterprise, Transport and Industry Arlene Foster agreed that reducing corporation tax would provide a “major stimulus” to the North. It was essential the British government made a speedy decision on the issue, she added.

Ms Foster said Northern Ireland must develop a strong global outlook. “Too many of our exporters have historically relied on near markets such as the Republic of Ireland or Great Britain. Whilst these are important, we need to extend our reach and take advantage of the many opportunities that exist across the globe.”