Corporation tax decision after 2014
Published 26/03/2013 | 15:41
There will be no decision on devolving corporation tax powers to Northern Ireland until after the Scottish independence referendum next year.
Downing Street said the matter would be resolved in the autumn of 2014, but business leaders have warned delaying a decision will prolong the suffering of local industry.
A Downing Street spokeswoman said the Prime Minister's meeting with Stormont First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness in No 10 was constructive.
"They made good progress on setting out a timetable for a decision on corporation tax in the autumn of 2014. If the decision is in favour of devolution we agreed to look at the best way of legislating within this parliament. Further discussion was agreed to take forward this process," she said.
The Prime Minister restated the Government's commitment to revitalising the Northern Ireland economy and outlined a wide-ranging package of options to help growth and tackle some of Northern Ireland's "long-standing" problems.
Mr McGuinness said the coalition was unwilling to act until after the Scottish independence referendum on September 18, 2014.
"It is very, very clear from the meeting that the whole issue of the referendum in Scotland is playing in big time to this debate on corporation tax and I think it is absolutely clear that no decision will be taken on this issue this side of the Scottish referendum," he said.
Chairman of the Institute of Directors in Northern Ireland Mervyn McCall said he was disappointed. "The longer it is deferred, the longer Northern Ireland suffers as a region and we cannot understand the reasoning behind delaying the judgment," he said.
Businesses in Northern Ireland have been pressing for the tax rate to be cut to 12.5% in line with that in the Republic of Ireland, credited with attracting foreign investors and fuelling an unprecedented boom within the Irish economy until the financial collapse.
Concerns have been expressed that the issue could ignite nationalist passions in Scotland with an administration in Edinburgh also eager for more powers but Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson vowed not to give up the fight for the power. "There is absolutely no reason why a decision could not be taken today if there was the political will to take that decision today," he said.