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Long-term economic vision

Newry’s business community was afforded the opportunity to quiz Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls and Shadow Secretary of State Vernon Coaker at a special lunch last Thursday (October 11) in the Canal Court Hotel. To celebrate its 120th year Newry Chamber of Commerce and Trade hosted the event with 200 delegates packing the Millers Suite. As well as addresses by chamber president Cathal Austin were addresses by Firmus general manager Michael Scott and Mr Balls. Following Mr Balls’ address in which he outlined his economic vision the shadow chancellor ws joined in the hot seat by Labour colleague Vernon Coaker as the two were grilled by Irish Independent legal editor Dearbhail McDonald. Following the event Mr Balls engaged in a brief interview session with local media suggesting that a temporary reduction in VAT and not the devolution of corporation tax  setting powers was the best way to stimulate the local economy in the short term. “The VAT rise which was a decision made at Westminster has a dramatic effect here and I think it was the wrong tax rise at the wrong time,” he said. “So I think that George Osborne could help Northern Ireland right now by having a one year temporary cut in VAT.” Mr Balls also spoke about the corporation tax issue stating that the deal must be right. “That is something that is being discussed by the treasury at the moment but it is something that the executive is going to have to think long and hard about. They would have to pay for that tax cut. Tax policy in general is not devolved and that has been the settlement in Northern Ireland but everything is on the table,” he added.


Newry Reporter

17th October 2012