Conor Murphy pledges to move quickly to make business rates system fairer

New Finance Minsiter, Conor Murphy. Picture by Kelvin Boyes
Ryan McAleer

NEW Finance Minister Conor Murphy has indicated he will move to quickly adopt proposed changes to the rates system to make it as fair as possible.

A major review of the non-domestic rating system in the north was launched by the Department of Finance in absence of ministers last May.

The methodology for the way business rates are calculated came under intense scrutiny last week, following the publication of new ratable values (NAV) for 74,000 premises around the north.

Businesses within the services and hospitality sectors have been particularly hard hit, with some of Belfast’s most popular pubs and hotels having their NAV more than doubled. In some cases, the values have been increased five-fold.

Speaking yesterday, the Sinn Féin minister said he would make business rates a priority.

“Clearly small businesses are suffering, he told the BBC. “Mairtin O’Muilleoir had, before he left office, initiated a review process of how rates policy was operated within the department.

“So I hope to very quickly pick that up, to talk to businesses, and to talk to all of those affected and try and come up with as fair a system as possible, and something which assists the small business sector and assists our town centres to try and get the economy moving again.”

Writing in today’s Irish News, chief executive of Retail NI, Glyn Roberts, said fixing business rates must be at the top of Mr Murphy’s policy in-tray.

“We no longer have a Rates Crisis –it is now an emergency and Conor Murphy must take immediate action to save jobs and businesses,” he said.

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