Regional business networks call for action from Executive

The new Northern Ireland Executive at Stormont, pictured with Prime Minister Boris Johnson
Ryan McAleer

BUSINESS networks from around the north have called on the new Executive to act cohesively and start making big decisions.

In a joint statement, issued by 11 chambers of commerce on Thursday, business leaders from Omagh to the north coast, have called for progress on the Executive’s Brexit sub-committee and an independent fiscal council.

The business networks have also flagged up a series of issues, ranging from rates and skills to infrastructure and exports.

The call follows a recent meeting of the north’s chamber network.

“With a chamber of commerce in almost every town and city, we are uniquely placed to understand the challenges facing all businesses in Northern Ireland, no matter their size, sector or location.

“We therefore met as a network to discuss business confidence and the challenges faced by members within our areas.

“The group welcomes the return of an Executive at Stormont, however we now strongly encourage Ministers to act in a cohesive way and start making big decisions on the issues facing business.

“They must start tackling the barriers to business growth immediately whilst also ensuring the quick implementation of the sub-committee on Brexit and the independent Fiscal Council.”

On rates, the networks claimed the current rates system “stymies growth” rather than encourages it.

“If businesses spend money to improve their working environment they are penalised in the form of higher rates,” reads the statement.

“The system requires a thorough review in order for it to provide certainty, simplicity and equity in how it is applied.”

The chambers have also called for investment in skills and infrastructure. They also described as “urgent” the need for a strategy to help indigenous businesses scale up and grow.

“The commitment to a revised Programme for Government brings with it an opportunity to create a new Economic Strategy for Northern Ireland, one that addresses skills challenges, low export figures and the broken rates system for example. The Chamber of Commerce network stands ready to play its part in this process.”

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