Wed 3rd Jul 2013
NI Chamber Outlines Blueprint for Enterprise Zone – Download the Document
Chamber President Francis Martin: the time for prevarication is over
The Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce has launched its blueprint for the setting-up of an Enterprise Zone across Northern Ireland. The document reiterated the Chamber’s call for an Enterprise Zone to be established right across Northern Ireland to help stimulate job creation and grow the private sector, and mapped out the steps required to do so.
A follow-up to the Chamber’s Enabling Economic Excellence manifesto, which set out the pathway for rebalancing the Northern Ireland economy, the blueprint identifies three key steps which must be followed for the successful development of an Enterprise Zone. These are:
- The Northern Ireland Assembly & Executive must take the lead;
- The Northern Ireland Assembly & Executive must work in partnership to ensure the business environment is right; and
- The Enterprise Zone must include a number of vital features, including a fast track planning process, access to a jobs fund and intensive support and an enhanced export guarantee scheme.
Commenting on the launch of the document, Francis Martin, President of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce, said:
“A healthy private sector means a higher level of job creation in Northern Ireland. This means a more stable local economy, vibrant high streets, healthier citizens and cohesive communities. The challenge to grow our private sector is more acute than ever and the time for prevarication is over – we must act now.
“A reduction in corporation tax is vital to improving the private sector but it is not a ‘silver bullet’ solution to wider economic problems. It must be immediately accompanied by the establishment of an Enterprise Zone right across Northern Ireland which will see the region become a hub for new and expanding local businesses and a magnet for international investment. The call for the creation of an Enterprise Zone was a major focus of our Enabling Economic Excellence manifesto and today’s blueprint details the steps which must be taken to develop the zone.
The Northern Ireland Chamber will meet with Finance Minister Sammy Wilson on Thursday to discuss the details of the document, a meeting which will be followed by similar discussions with other NI Executive Ministers.
Outlining the three key steps in the creation of the Enterprise Zone, Mr Martin said:
“The Northern Ireland Assembly must assume the main leadership role in the process, rather than the Treasury, and we will be emphasising this point in our meetings with the Ministers. There should be an appreciation of the objectives of all institutions of Government, but the responsibility must rest with Northern Ireland.
“For an Enterprise Zone to succeed, the Assembly must work to ensure that the business environment is conducive to success and this will require positive developments taking place in a number of key areas. These include planning regulation and administration, a coherent and committed plan for physical infrastructure improvements, agreed policies on the development of water and sewerage services, fiscal coherence and coherence of disparate Government plans for the economy.
“There are a number of vital characteristics which the Enterprise Zone should include, among which are 100% relief on regional and district rate for the first three years for new-starts and for a three-year period for companies with expansion plans, a reduction in corporation tax to 12.5%, a simplified tax credit system and a reduced rate of VAT on domestic property repairs. It is also important that there is support for sectors with the greatest potential to grow, support for knowledge transfer between business and third level education and guarantees to lenders to support favourable borrowing arrangements,” he added.
In its Enabling Economic Excellence manifesto, launched at Stormont in October 2010, the Chamber called for the slashing of red tape which has cost companies