A survey of almost 400 Chartered Accountants suggests economic recovery in the province may have stalled and that the outlook for the year ahead is ‘indifferent’.
The survey by Chartered Accountants Ulster Society shows that 68% of its respondents say that Northern Ireland is ‘some way towards recovery’ (down from 72% in 2015), while 23% believe that it is ‘a long way off recovery’ (up from 21% in 2015). Just 8% feel that Northern Ireland is ‘well on the way to recovery’ (up from 6% in 2015).
In terms of the outlook for the year ahead, 32% rated prospects as ‘good’ (down from 38% in 2015), 51% rated prospects as ‘indifferent’ (up from 44% in 2015), while 18% rated prospects as ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’ (up from 17% in 2015).
Chartered Accountants cite the biggest negative issues for the local economy in the year ahead as cuts in Government spending, exchange rate volatility, the pending EU referendum and the global economic outlook.
The issues regarded as having the most positive impact on the local economy were falling oil prices and the introduction of a reduced Corporation Tax rate in 2018. Respondents also felt very strongly about the importance of having a highly skilled workforce in place going forward.
CAUS chair Dawn Johnston said: “The good news is that the share of businesses in financial distress seems to be falling, but the survey suggests that the overall economic recovery in Northern Ireland may have stalled and that the outlook for the year ahead is indifferent.
“On the EU referendum, a majority of 72% said it would be in the best interests of the Northern Ireland economy to remain part of the EU, while 12% believed it would be better to leave and 16% were not sure.