Tue 14th Feb 2017
Arlene Foster outlines DUP plans for jobs and the economy
DUP Leader open to Corporation Tax rate of 10%
DUP leader Arlene Foster today (Tuesday 14 February 2017) outlined her plans for jobs and the economy to leading members of the Northern Ireland business community ahead of the forthcoming election.
The DUP leader was speaking at the first event of the ‘5 Leaders, 5 Days’ series, a programme of events organised by the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NI Chamber) at which the party leader from five main political parties will outline their plans for jobs, growth and the economy.
Today’s event took place at BT Riverside Tower and will be followed over the next fortnight by four similar events at which the Sinn Fein, Ulster Unionist, SDLP and Alliance Party leaders will address business audiences.
Speaking at the event, Ms Foster said:
“Fundamental to the economic strategy is the devolution of Corporation Tax setting powers. As a matter of European law, it simply can’t happen if Stormont isn’t up and running. It can’t be done under Direct Rule, even if the willingness existed on the part of Direct Rule Ministers. But it’s not enough for Stormont to be up and running. It also needs the political will and drive to make it happen.
“We worked hard to make sure we won the power to set Corporation Tax powers when others had given up. And if we are to put these new powers to use, it will only be because we have continued to make it a priority. Let there be no doubt we will only get Corporation Tax rates reduced if Stormont is back.
“Last May, creating more and better jobs with a target of 50,000 by 2021 was central to our five-point plan. We stand on that platform again. This target will be achieved not solely through the work of Invest NI but the range of measures in this plan including action on Corporation Tax, an upscaling plan, a rural jobs focus and investment in skills. This should enable Northern Ireland to keep its most talented people and attract back those who have left.
“I remain committed to delivering the 12.5% Corporation Tax rate in 2018. Indeed, with the shift at a UK level to lower UK Corporation Tax we are open to looking at lowering the rate to 10%.”
Speaking after today’s event, Nick Coburn, President of Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said:
“Ensuring the best deal for Northern Ireland in Brexit negotiations and the opportunity to avail of a reduction in Corporation Tax means this election is the most important for jobs and the economy in the history of Northern Ireland.
“NI Chamber welcomes the Party Leader’s comments relating to Corporation Tax. For that reason it is vital that we have a new Executive in place as soon as the election is over to proceed with Northern Ireland’s lower rate of Corporation Tax and boost the region’s attractiveness to investors. Ultimately it is about job creation meaning businesses can employ more people and contribute to social inclusion.
It will be a strong sales asset for Northern Ireland which will help to attract fresh investment. It is absolutely vital that nothing knocks that objective off course.
“We also accept that lowering the rate of Corporation Tax is not the answer to everything – the Northern Ireland economy still needs more people with skills to boost productivity and further investment in infrastructure – but it is an easy economic concept to sell and understand. That makes Northern Ireland highly attractive as a place in which to do business.”
The next 5 Leaders, 5 Days event will see UUP’s Mike Nesbitt speak tomorrow (Wednesday 15 February) at Diageo’s Belfast City Centre office, with SDLP leader Colum Eastwood addressing the audience at Belfast’s Mount Charles office on Friday 17 February. Sinn Fein leader Michelle O’Neill will speak at Bloc Blinds in Magherafelt on Wednesday 22 February and Alliance leader Naomi Long will conclude the series at Lisburn’s Boomer Industries on Friday 24 February.
DUP Leader Arlene Foster pictured with Chief Executive Ann McGregor, Mairead Meyer, Managing Director of Networks for BT Northern Ireland and NI Chamber President Nick Coburn.