Northern Ireland could become the UK’s “economic miracle” if granted devolved powers to reduce its corporation tax, First Minister Peter Robinson has claimed.
The DUP leader said he was not prepared to preside over a country stuck in a long-term rut - saying a game-changer was needed.
“To me, corporation tax-setting powers would be just that,” Mr Robinson said.
“I want us to transform our economy and in a decade’s time for Northern Ireland to become known as the UK’s economic miracle.”
In an address at the DUP’s first ever Spring Policy Conference in Co Fermanagh, Mr Robinson said the country already had much to offer businesses for trade and investment.
He said reducing corporation tax levels paid by businesses would make Northern Ireland unbeatable at home and abroad.
Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers revealed earlier this week that ministers in London and Belfast were creating a new package of economic measures - which would include discussions on the tax.
Prime Minister David Cameron met the first minister and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness at Downing Street last month to discuss the steps, aimed at encouraging enterprise, boosting infrastructure and improving access to bank finance.
Today, Mr Robinson said he would relentlessly press the prime minister to devolve the tax, which would allow the executive the power to reduce it in line with the Republic of Ireland’s 12.5% and more effectively compete for foreign investment.
“The Conservative Party publicly pledged and committed itself to rebalancing our economy and has developed, with us, what we both consider to be a doable instrument to reach that goal,” he told the DUP conference.
“I further believe that if the power to enable us to set a lower level of corporation tax is not devolved by this present government - during this present parliament - it will never be delivered by any future government, at least, not within my political lifetime.”
The DUP leader added that one of the executive’s biggest challenges would be to show the public that devolution is delivering, and that it pays to be part of the UK.
“The old-style unionist majority is a thing of the past, but we have within our grasp the opportunity to establish a new more broadly based voter consensus which will guarantee Northern Ireland’s position within the United Kingdom for generations to come,” he said.