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Support for business must be targeted

13 June, 2007

Sinn Féin West Belfast MLA Paul Maskey has said that a blanket approach to the issue of industrial de-rating might not be the best way forward because benefits to the manufacturing industry were spread too thinly.

Speaking at Stormont Mr Maskey said:

"The Manufacturing Focus Group has kept the Industrial Rates high on the agenda and there is currently a review being carried out by the Economic Research Institute into Industrial de-rating.

"We need to recognise that business rating is only one aspect of a much wider problem that requires general reforms, including democratic control of fiscal policy and the development of an all-Ireland taxation and rating system.

"I believe Government Departments have deliberately neglected West Belfast, and other constituencies that are in areas of deprivation and socially deprived.

"When it comes to securing industries to locate in the North, Government Departments have an obligation to secure industries to locate In TSN areas but they have done the opposite.

"On a trade mission with a delegation from West Belfast and the Greater Shankill organised by the Enterprise Council to the town of Lawrence just outside Boston USA and I met with many people from both areas for the first time. We met with businesses and State officials from the US who said that they had been on delegations to the North of Ireland including many parts of Belfast organised by Invest NI but yet they were never shown West Belfast or the Shankill.

"Are they ashamed of us?

"To me that was the way the British Government direct rule ministers treated the area that I represent.

"We must not allow our devolved Ministers to treat our communities the same way direct rule ministers did, so we must address this issue.

"I believe there should be specific rates relief measures to businesses that locate in TSN areas to draw new investors and assist existing businesses who have already shown great courage and given great leadership and assisting our communities to overcome their difficulties.

"TSN areas need to be given priority assistance to allow them to catch up with the rest of the island.

"A blanket approach might not be the best way forward which might mean that in practice that benefits to the manufacturing industry were spread too thinly and did not allow the Executive to focus resources where they were most needed. Other sectors of the economy did not benefit from this concession meaning that the policy of Industrial de-rating was not fair in its application." ENDS

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