A corporation tax rate of 12.5 per cent could be in place by April 2017, First Minister Peter Robinson has claimed.
Mr Robinson was speaking as he attended a business breakfast in west Belfast.
Legislation is now being prepared for passage through Parliament that will see the ability to set the rate transferred to Stormont.
The business community wants the rate lowered closer to that of the Irish Republic to give local firms more room for investment and encourage outside or foreign direct investment (FDI).
“By coincidence, I am sure, it is likely to complete its stages by March 17, St Patrick’s Day,” said Mr Robinson.
“We will take the decision shortly after that.”
The event at the Kennedy Centre on the Falls Road was organised by businessman Gerry Carlisle.
Accompanied by Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster, Mr Robinson said he wanted see employment grow across the city and that he hoped such visits would become “the new norm”.