Sat 6th Jul 2013
The President’s Banquet 2012
Above: Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster, Guest Speaker John Humphrys and Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce President Mark Nodder.
Business is good for Northern Ireland and Northern Ireland is good for business – that was the message from Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce President Mark Nodder as he spoke to an audience of nearly 500 people at the annual President’s Banquet at Belfast City Hall on 28 November.
Dignitaries present at the sold out gala dinner included Secretary of State Theresa Villiers, PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott, and the Ministers for Enterprise, Trade and Investment, Justice, Health, Employment and Learning, and Social Development.
Mr Nodder was also joined by BBC Broadcaster and guest speaker John Humphrys, BT Chief Executive, Colm O’Neill and Irish Times Managing Director, Liam Kavanagh.
Quoting former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, Mr Nodder said:
“We cannot afford the luxury of pessimism.” He continued “Here in Northern Ireland we have the talent, the entrepreneurial spirit, and the ability to punch above our weight. We have many ambitious and well-run companies in Northern Ireland which have the products and/or services to succeed abroad. The recovery will come, and we do not want to be left in the starting blocks.
“What is needed is a radical overhaul of the way government here functions, a re-imagining of the relationship between public and private sectors. I would heartily recommend a lean attitude to government – asking difficult questions about the purpose of regulations, reducing bureaucracy and eliminating red tape and speeding up processes.
“I would like to see a much deeper collaboration between business, schools, universities and government with the over-arching objective of ensuring Northern Ireland is fit for purpose, realising its potential, and ready to take advantage of recovery quickly.
“Business risk has to be encouraged and rewarded. The best way to do this is to reduce corporation tax, and provide companies with greater long-term financial incentive to invest in growth.”
Commenting on the Chancellor’s upcoming Autumn Statement Mr Nodder said:
“We hope that the Chancellor will seize the initiative to stimulate growth in his Autumn Statement next month, to instill the confidence in the future, to encourage greater investment by companies in new product development and new markets.
“The Chancellor will have a chance to demonstrate that the pursuit of growth really is at the heart of the government’s agenda. It’s time to get the economy moving forward again.
“We can address the challenges and we can win, by working together, demonstrating business really is good for Northern Ireland and Northern Ireland is good for business.”
Also addressing the crowd was Arlene Foster, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment. The Minister commented:
“I want to offer help for today and hope for tomorrow. If we are to pull through this – and I am confident we will – we have to act, and we have to act together.
“We published our Economic Strategy in March this year alongside the Programme for Government and it sets out what we are doing to improve our competitiveness. If we are to compete – and win – we need to make Northern Ireland a world-class place to invest. We need to make Northern Ireland a world-class place to do business.
“I firmly believe that a reduction in the rate of corporation tax in Northern Ireland would provide a major stimulus to the local economy. In the short term it would provide an immediate psychological boost. In the longer term it will deliver jobs, investment and prosperity.”
Colm O’Neill, Chief Executive Officer at BT also spoke at the event. Mr O’Neill said:
“I want to thank the Northern Ireland Chamber for the significant work that it does to support businesses and to drive economic progress. Both the private and public sectors continue to be tested in these challenging times, but it has made us all the more innovative and determined to identify opportunities for growth.
“There are great success stories coming out of Northern Ireland: local businesses exporting their ideas around the world; public sector leadership in transformational ICT projects; a European leader for fibre broadband availability; major events secured such as Derry~Londonderry UK City of Culture and the World Police and Fire Games; and of course the performance of Northern Ireland in the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. We now need to look at an ambitious plan for the future, and we are excited about working with the Chamber and its members on building a sustainable economy.”