Northern Ireland must have political stability and an Executive ‘pulling together’ on economic development if business growth is to be achieved, the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry has claimed.
Launching its action plan for building wealth it said politicians needed to be able to move away from dissension and concentrate instead on the issues vital to all.
The plan follows consultation with the Chamber’s membership of 1,200 companies across the Province. It contains almost 40 recommendations across five priority areas in order to achieve growth and prosperity across the region.
“The importance of political stability and a Northern Ireland Executive pulling together on the economy cannot be underestimated” said president Kevin Kingston.
“Political stability is a key facilitator of economic growth and Northern Ireland is already lagging behind the other UK regions in terms of a recovery.”
The plan, he said, laid out proposals seen as key principles under the headings of skills, infrastructure, supporting investment, cutting costs for business and growing exports.
Chamber CEO Ann McGregor said: “Our Growing Something Brilliant plan sets out a number of recommendations to help overcome barriers to business growth.
“These are practical, pragmatic and achievable and the goals are shared by companies in every county of Northern Ireland.
“We call on the Northern Ireland Executive and local authorities, regardless of location or political colour, to work together - and with us - to make it a reality.”
Underlining the plan’s message, which the chamber said was resonating through the business community, Ian Henry, a director at leading construction firm Henry Brothers, said economic prosperity could only be achieved by cross-party co-operation.
“A stable political environment is crucial for local businesses as our government needs to start working together to get confidence back into Northern Ireland,” he said.
“Government needs to issue a planned pipeline of infrastructure projects that it intends to release over the next three years so everyone is aware of its commitment to funding within Northern Ireland.
“In turn, this will help provide the confidence we need.”
Among the key action areas identified in the plan is the need to prepare young people for the world of work, investing in the skills of those already at work, and ensuring the supply of skills required to grow the economy.
Elsewhere, it stresses the importance of driving down business costs and taxes which it says present major challenges to all businesses, in particular manufacturers.
“Reducing costs and the amount of tax that firms pay will boost businesses competitiveness, investment and jobs”, it said.