Doubts over whether Stormont could handle corporation tax powers

By Neil Logan

After a long campaign by business owners and politicians in Northern Ireland, it is expected that Chancellor George Osborne will announce that corporation tax powers can be passed to Stormont in his Autumn Statement on Wednesday. However, one businessman has voiced his concerns at Stormont's ability to handle the new powers.

Bro McFerran, the managing director of AllState NI, believes Stormont may lack the necessary "understanding and nuance and sophistication" to manage corporation tax, which he describes as a "very sophisticated tax instrument". He is also concerned about the price Northern Ireland will pay to receive corporation tax powers, with current estimates suggesting the province will lose up to £400million from the annual Westminster block grant. Other critics of the transfer of powers include Unionist Jim Allister, who said that letting Stormont manage corporation tax would be allowing "the loonies to take control of the asylum".

The majority do however seem to be in favour of the transfer of powers, with most believing that Northern Ireland struggles for foreign investment with a corporation tax rate of 21 per cent, when 12.5 per cent is on offer to businesses who set up in the Republic of Ireland. Eamon Donaghy of Grow NI says a lower corporation tax would make Northern Ireland "more relevant" and "more attractive .. as a place to invest in."

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