THE First and Deputy First Minister have asked officials to examine the possibility of legislating for the devolution of corporation tax by 2015 even though Prime Minister David Cameron says no decision will be made on the issue until next August.
Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness expressed disappointment over Mr Cameron’s refusal to make a decision on the business tax until after the Scots vote on independence next year.
But although this will leave a just eight months until General Election 2015, the local leaders are looking at the possibility of making lower corporation tax a reality before then.
They stated: “We met with the Prime Minister, David Cameron, on 26 March 2013 to discuss the devolution of Corporation Tax powers to the Executive. He said at the meeting that no decision on this issue will be made until Autumn 2014.
“We expressed our disappointment and agreed to adjourn the meeting to allow officials to explore how, if a positive decision was made, this could be given legislative effect before the end of the current parliament.”
The Ministers also pointed to a number of other developments since their last meeting with Mr Cameron.
They stated: “Since our meeting with the Prime Minister, we received correspondence from the Secretary of State detailing some proposed economic measures for the local economy.
“The economic package ‘Building a Prosperous and United Community’ was announced on 14 June 2013, and was ratified by the Executive on 27 June 2013.”
Back in May 2012 the Sentinel reported how moderate cuts to corporation tax introduced from 2010 onwards did help boost employment in Northern Ireland but didn’t appear to be making much impact on dole queues in Londonderry.
In his first budget Conservative Chancellor George Osborne lowered the rate of tax on the profits of large corporations from 28 per cent to 26 per cent.
Further reductions kicked in in April 2012 with the rate falling to 24 per cent and the Conservative/Liberal Democrat Government is committed to another reduction to 22 per cent in 2014.
In April 2010 when the Government took power 4,980 people (7.2 per cent of people of working age) in Londonderry were claiming the dole.
Now 6,273 people (8.9 per cent of people of working age) are claiming the dole - an extra 1,293 over the three years the Government has been in power.