Ulster Unionist Member of Parliament for Fermanagh and South Tyrone, Tom Elliott, has called on the UK Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Greg Clark MP, to provide support and assistance for the development of an Enterprise Zone in Northern Ireland.
Tom Elliott said:
“Following the triggering of Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, we have an opportunity to put Northern Ireland firmly on the business map. We need to be acutely aware of the unique challenges we face as the only constituent part of the UK with a land border adjacent to an EU Member State. In the Commons, I have called on the UK Government to provide support for Northern Ireland, in order to facilitate the best possible business conditions.
“Currently in Northern Ireland, there is only one small designated Enterprise Zone, which, frankly, in recent years has not really developed. What the Ulster Unionist Party and I want to see is a Northern Ireland, which is good for business, good for enterprise, and good for investment. We as a party recognise this and produced a ‘Vision for Northern Ireland outside the EU’ with one of our top priorities being the creation of a Northern Ireland wide Enterprise Zone.
“As far back as 2010, the UUP explored this option with the UK Government, and now with the decision to leave the EU on our doorstep, we need to be prepared to examine all the options. The reduction of Corporation Tax, which is supposed to be introduced in April 2018, is the first step. We need to be prepared to provide the right incentives and conditions for investment in Northern Ireland PLC.
“For example, a reduced rate of VAT in the hospitality and tourism sector could increase the much needed competitiveness with the Republic of Ireland. Also, we propose the abolition of Air Passenger Duty, which would make sense as Northern Ireland is so heavy reliant on air travel, and would allow Northern Ireland to compete with Dublin Airport.
“At a time when political stories of failure and scandal dominate the headlines in Northern Ireland, we need positive news. Why don’t we take some affirmative action to ensure Northern Ireland is in the best possible position after leaving the European Union? Let’s explore different options, encourage business, encourage enterprise and encourage investment in order to create jobs and wealth.”