Conor Murphy: Cutting corporation tax in Northern Ireland not affordable

Conor Murphy said that cutting corporation tax is 'not the single silver bullet'Conor Murphy said that cutting corporation tax is 'not the single silver bullet'
Conor Murphy said that cutting corporation tax is 'not the single silver bullet'
US investors were more interested in dual market access as an incentive than lower corporation tax, the Stormont Economy Minister has said.

Conor Murphy also said he would “not argue for a race to the bottom” by cutting corporation tax in order to compete with rates in the Republic of Ireland.

A number of previous economy ministers in Northern Ireland have considered cutting the corporation tax rate.

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A commitment to “work urgently to devolve corporation tax powers to Stormont” even featured in the Government’s recent Safeguarding the Union command paper.

DUP MLA Philip Brett asked Mr Murphy during Economy Minister Questions at the Assembly on Tuesday for his assessment of the economic impact of reducing corporation tax.

Responding, Mr Murphy said cutting corporation tax is “not affordable” due to the way in which Treasury propose to deduct funding from the Executive bloc round at the time of public spending cuts.

“That will remain the case unless the British government changes its approach to funding public services and to adjusting the bloc grant for devolved taxes,” he said.

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“In the meantime, it’s my intention to create an attractive investment proposition for firms by improving skills and ensuring the companies can take full advantage of dual market access opportunities that exists through the Windsor Framework.”

Mr Murphy visited the United States last week ahead of St Patrick’s Day where he said he spoke to a number of companies around potentially investing in Northern Ireland in the future.

He said corporation tax rarely came up in those conversations, but Northern Ireland’s unique position following Brexit with access to both the UK and EU markets did.

“The key issue for people was the people that we have working here, skills, the dual access to both British and European markets, the fact that we had an Executive back in place which meant that people had confidence that they could come and engage with us at the right level in order for them to make inquiries and make approaches,” he said.

“There is a very significant level of interest.

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“The dual market access has piqued a certain interest not just in America, but also in Europe as well.

“It’s our duty to try and exploit that to the fullest possible way we can.

“I don’t actually believe that we need to be in competition (with the Republic of Ireland).

“I think that’s been the mindset here for too long, that we’re competing.

“I wouldn’t be arguing for a race to the bottom on this.

“Corporation tax reduction is something which interests companies and can attract more investment, but it’s not the single silver bullet.”