NIM Disappointed On 'Rates Break' But Not Giving Up
NI Manufacturing has said that it is disappointed that the Finance Minister has at least initially rejected their call for speedy and direct action by the Executive to support manufacturing jobs and companies through the dark days of the recession. Speaking after a meeting with Sammy Wilsion, where the NIM asked for a rates ‘break’ to act as an adrenaline shot directly into the heart of manufacturing, Bryan Gray said that the group would now be stepping up its campaign.
“While we appreciate both the Minister’s understanding of the problems facing manufacturers here, and the strain on our public finances, we believe that he has seriously underestimated the potential long term impact of the recession on jobs and investment in Northern Ireland PLC. The Province has already suffered huge job losses this year running as high as 1000 per week at one stage. Once those jobs have been lost and companies damaged the prospect of any recovery is minimal. Output and GDP are still falling. Many local employers have already folded and many more jobs will be lost by the end of the year.”
“The level of business taxation has more than doubled this year with the imposition of an additional £23 million in increased sewerage charges at a time when industry can least afford it. We simply asked the Minister to forego some £10m of that funding by declaring a rates holiday for manufacturers for the second half of this financial year. This would have assisted every manufacturing company in the Province, from the smallest to the largest by delivering real help now. Government need to be light on their feet at this difficult time, cumbersome, slow moving aid schemes will only result in the doctor getting there after the patient is dead.”
He said that the group were, however encouraged by the Minister’s assertion that he would consider allocating funding for a scheme in next financial year and they were also pleased that no other ‘technical’ barriers were placed in the way of such a scheme.
Mr Gray continued, “Given that the support and development of the private sector is a cornerstone of the Programme for Government it is disappointing that the Executive does not consider this issue of prime importance. Real engineering as opposed to financial engineering is needed to sustain our economy. Manufacturing is the cornerstone of the economy. We will continue to lobby hard at Stormont and across Northern Ireland on this issue.”