South Down Sinn Féin MLA, Catríona Ruane has described DETI Minister, Arlene Foster's comments on the proposed HGV levy which is being introduced by the British Government as further evidence of the need for transfer of full fiscal powers from Westminster to the Executive. The levy could see all HGV's crossing the border from this April being liable to pay up to £10 a day.
Ms Ruane said:
"Once more a DUP Minister has subserviently accepted the imposition of another tax on our economy by Westminster - a HGV levy on vehicles registered in the South of Ireland. In response to a supplementary from myself asking that she request the Environment Minister to bring forward a paper assessing the impact of such a levy on the North's economy, Arlene Foster stated, 'It is not a matter for the Environment Minister; it is a matter for Westminster. They have decided that they are going ahead with the levy'.
"This is just the latest limp response by a DUP Minister to Westminster revenue gathering here with no regard to the effect on our economy. The imposition of this levy will have a detrimental effect on the expanding cross border trade which currently generates £2.3bn for this island and could dissuade investment in northern operations by southern based parent companies. This could have a particularly negative impact on the agri-food sector - our fastest growing sector.
"This is another revenue raising exercise similar to Air Passenger Tax and Corporation Tax which goes directly into the coffers of the British Exchequer with no return or economic benefit to our economy.
"It is another example of why we should be taking control of our own fiscal affairs and designing our own economic blueprint for financial stability and sustainability in conjunction with the Dublin government to develop an island economy.
“Sinn Féin has been vocal in its opposition to this move and our representatives, north and south have been to the fore in highlighting the issue at every elected forum.
“Arlene Foster should be representing the electorate here by robustly lobbying the British government to amend the legislation to exempt the north from this regressive tax"