Wednesday 21 March 2018

Cameron unveils economic package for the North

UK Prime Minister David Cameron unveiled a new economic package for the North yesterday which he said will be crucial for the local economy.

IBEC and other business groups north and south of the Border welcomed the plan.

Initiatives to stimulate private-sector investment and job creation, boost lending to businesses and deliver capital funding for frontline projects such as hospitals, schools and roads are to be included in the package.

Mr Cameron said the package would help strengthen the foundations for peace and send a positive message ahead of next week's G8 summit at Lough Erne.

"In Fermanagh, we will show the world an increasingly outward-looking Northern Ireland, that is open for business and focusing on the steps it needs to take to succeed in the global race," the British prime minister said.

Initiatives include:

* An additional £100m (€117m) in capital-borrowing powers for the North's executive over 2014-15 and 2015-16 to support specific shared housing and education projects.

* A further £42m in UK funding for the PEACE IV programme and a £154m top-up for EU Structural Funds for Northern Ireland for 2014-2020.

* Continuing the North's Assisted Areas Status coverage, which has helped the executive to create over 3,000 jobs in the last three months alone.

* Measures to boost lending to businesses, including extending the £117m Start-up Loans Scheme and piloting a new version of the Enterprise Finance Guarantee Scheme with a bank in the North.

* Agreement on a mechanism for taking forward the devolution of corporation tax before the 2015 general election, if the government decides to devolve these powers.

* A commitment to examine the potential for devolving additional fiscal powers, with recommendations to be put to executive and government ministers by autumn 2014.

* A new way forward on Enterprise Zones, which would allow the North's businesses in designated areas to benefit from enhanced capital allowances.

* A commitment to take forward a visa-waiver pilot to encourage visitors to the Republic of Ireland to visit the North.

Irish Independent

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