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Neeson: 'Tax-varying powers would be good for Northern Ireland'

September 24, 2003 12:00 AM

ALLIANCE Regional Development Spokesperson Sean Neeson has said that tax-varying powers for a restored Assembly could help offset investment problems created by industrial de-rating.

Since Direct Rule's re-introduction, the Government took the decision to abolish industrial de-rating, which will have a detrimental effect on local manufacturing industries.

The former East Antrim MLA said: "Estimates suggest several thousand jobs could be lost because of de-rating - not only in large manufacturing industries, but in small to medium-sized enterprises as well.

"Industrial de-rating was originally brought in to compete with the lower rates of corporation tax in the Republic of Ireland. Now that this incentive is to be withdrawn, it will be more difficult for Northern Ireland to attract inward investment, compared to the Republic.

"I have already met Enterprise Minister Ian Pearson on this issue, but there appears to be a lack of understanding about the impact this will have on industry here. It also underlines the benefit of the Assembly having tax-varying powers.

" Throughout the Assembly's lifetime, Alliance was the only major party to promote this in order to deal with the necessary finances, not only for industry, but also investment in health and education services here."

Mr Neeson said that if tax-varying powers could be used to reduce Corporation Tax, Northern Ireland would be in a better position to compete for inward investment.

"We would also provide enhanced tax incentives, to encourage profitability and increase the rewards of success. Tax-varying powers would give the Assembly a greater ability to reflect the democratic wishes of local people and to have the capability to offer tax incentives to stimulate local economic growth."

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