A leading businessman has called into question the ability of politicians to deliver a lowering of corporation tax for Northern Ireland. There have been indications that Chancellor George Osborne may make an announcement in his Autumn Statement on Wednesday. The prime minister has said arguments made by politicians for devolving powers to Stormont were “strong””.
The current rate paid by businesses in Northern Ireland is 21%. However, the executive wants businesses to be able to match tax rate in the Republic of Ireland, which stands at 12.5%. The managing director of insurance company Allstate NI, Bro McFerran, told BBC Radio Ulster’s Inside Business programme that he is not convinced politicians in Northern Ireland are ready to take on corporation tax powers.
“Our Northern Irish politicians need to show that they can deal and resolve the existing issues before they get into the realms of corporation tax,” he said. “I think if we introduce something where we need much greater understanding and nuance and sophistication, I’m not sure those are words that we naturally associate with our Northern Irish politicians, and I think that is something that we have to be very careful about.”
He is spot on. The Stormont government is inherently dysfunctional and has shown itself unable to even agree on the need for welfare cuts of £80m. How it would cope with public sector cuts of more than £200m a year remains covered in mystery!