Danny Kinahan MLA, Ulster Unionist Party economy spokesperson, has queried whether Stormont’s Government departments are making proper preparation for the devolution of Corporation Tax.
During Question Time at Stormont, Mr Kinahan asked the First Minister:
“Does the Minister regret wasting time discussing the cost of devolving corporation tax with HM Treasury, when the decision was always going to be a political one made in Number 10?”
Speaking later the South Antrim MLA said:
“It is a matter of regret and frustration that the Executive was unable to present a compelling case to the Coalition Government at Westminster in 2010/11 that the power to vary Corporation Tax rates in Northern Ireland should be devolved to Stormont. It was a fundamental mistake to reduce this debate to a barter with HM Treasury over what the cost to the Block Grant would be. Time has been wasted and the intervention of the Scottish referendum further stymied progress in this area. We should have had the power devolved first, and then negotiated with HM Treasury to get the best deal for Northern Ireland.
“I am not convinced that there is any sense of preparedness at Stormont. Since I joined the committee shadowing the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, I have been very disappointed by the lack of urgency displayed. I suggested that the committee should be conducting its own inquiry into the issue of Corporation tax and attracting Foreign Direct Investment, but my calls have thus far fallen on stony ground. We are possibly about to be delegated one of the most important fiscal tools in terms of stimulating private sector growth, and yet our economy committee could not agree to do anything about it.
“It is essential that actions are taken now by all Departments to make Corporation Tax work. Stormont needs to act now and prepare the way for the reduction of Corporation Tax. The Executive needs to display joined up government to ensure that the devolution of this tax works for Northern Ireland. I cannot see Corporation Tax being a silver bullet unless this happens.
“If Corporation Tax is to work for us we need to phase it in, and phase how we pay for it too, and this needs careful planning. However, first of all let us get the power devolved.”