Hot off the press North pushes for lower tax rate
THE decision to change Northern Ireland's corporation tax rate is now in the hands of the people, Secretary of State Owen Paterson has said.
Mr Paterson was visiting the printing press at 'Belfast Telegraph' parent company Independent News & Media in Newry as he rounded off a hectic week of campaigning in favour of dropping the rate to match that of the Republic of Ireland at 12.5pc.
It has been a momentous week for the campaign, with the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee at Westminster, the Economic Advisory Group and business coalition 'Grow NI' all coming out in favour of lowering the rate from 28pc.
A consultation process, on whether the Stormont Executive should be given the power to set its own tax rates, closes on June 24 and Mr Paterson is urging as many people as possible to make their views known.
"We have a real chance to make this work," he said.
He said that the eventual benefits of a lower rate would outweigh the cost to the block grant given to Northern Ireland from Westminster, which he estimates would be £60m-£90m (€69m-€104m) every year -- just 0.5pc of the total.
He added that the lower rate will off-set a drop in government hand-outs and public spending.
"People are starting to realise that lowering corporation tax has nothing to do with fat cats and brass plating, there will be massive trickledown benefits to every member of the community," he said.
"The Republic of Ireland has fought like a tiger to defend its rate in the face of demands from France and Germany and we defended them, because despite the banking crisis, they are doing very well.
"The grants from the UK will not last forever and the amount of public spending, which accounts for 77.6pc of GDP, is just not sustainable."
Vincent Crowley, group chief operating officer of Independent News & Media, welcomed Mr Paterson to the facility.
He said: "We were delighted that the Secretary of State showed such interest in our activities in Northern Ireland. We fully support the campaign to lower the corporation tax rate in Northern Ireland."
The INM presses in Newry, which began running in 2007, are amongst the most modern in Europe and produce three million newspapers a week, using 300 tonnes of paper.