Sat 6th Jul 2013
NI Chamber welcomes Economic Pact
Commenting on the announcement of an economic pact to help Northern Ireland’s economy, Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce President Mark Nodder said:
“Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce welcomes any package that can stimulate the Northern Ireland economy and today’s announcement is a step in the right direction.
We especially welcome the news that the government will take forward further work on Corporation Tax devolution and has set out to the First and Deputy First Minister a way forward on this issue.
The Chamber recently surveyed our members on what they believe the most important aspects of any potential economic package to be. They told us that the package should be centred on enhanced business rates relief (54% considered this very important), fast tracking of key infrastructure projects (46% very important), the provision of some form of guarantee to lenders to support more favourable business borrowing (45% very important) and enhanced capital allowances (44% very important).
We are therefore delighted that these elements form part of the package. We are especially pleased that that enhanced capital allowances are being considered as part of the enterprise zone concept, something Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce has lobbied for since 2011 along with enhanced businesses rates relief which was the top priority amongst our members.
Access to finance has also put our SME’s in particular under enormous strain and therefore the finance initiatives announced today are welcomed. It is critical that these support initiatives work for Northern Ireland and do not follow the current Enterprise Finance Guarantee and Funding for Lending schemes which have not been effective here. The Chamber has long campaigned for a Business Bank and we look forward to receiving a timetable for its implementation.
The package also provides a much needed boost for the construction sector which has experienced a reduction by 41% since 2009 and today’s announcement will be extremely well received by them. We also hope that any plans to stimulate small business growth will include increased private sector involvement in service delivery. The government is currently delivering too many services directly and we need more initiatives such as the BT-delivered NI Connect.
Finally, we welcome the review of business red tape. Government must focus on simplifying regulation and reducing its costs to business, leaving companies free to grow and create jobs. Government must now introduce at least a 25% reduction in red tape and unnecessary regulation.”