The EAG has responded to the NI Executives draft Programme for Government (2011-2015), draft Economic Strategy and draft Investment Strategy for NI.
Speaking on behalf of the Group, the Chair of EAG, Kate Barker, said: “EAG welcomes the opportunity to provide a consolidated response to the three documents and is pleased to see the top priority attached to the economy in these strategies. It is important to stress, however, that the benefits for the economy and the people of Northern Ireland will only be seen when the measures are effectively implemented. Ensuring successful implementation must therefore be the key priority”.
She went on to say: “EAG welcomes the connectivity between the three documents and strongly urges the Executive to ensure that there is continuity in this connectivity through implementation and delivery. These documents and any associated action plans must form the basis for future policy, and the Executive must ask itself at every budget, Comprehensive Spending Review or other debates, whether the decisions being taken at that time are aligned with the strategies and priorities outlined in these plans”.
Ms Barker continued: “As outlined in the draft Economic Strategy improving NI’s competitiveness is essential to delivering a more prosperous future and the EAG will continue in its work to develop robust indicators of Northern Ireland’s competitiveness to ensure that the progress of the Executive’s Economic Strategy can be independently monitored and reassessed over time.”
Referring to the work EAG has been doing in relation to corporation tax, Ms Barker went on: ” EAG has been heavily involved in the debate over devolving corporation tax powers to Northern Ireland. The Group’s response to the HMT consultation on rebalancing the Northern Ireland economy argues strongly that this policy is perhaps the most significant measure that could be deployed to improve the local economy. The EAG welcomes the Executive’s continued commitment to pursue this important policy lever with the UK Government”.
“It is important to note, however, that reduced corporation tax on its own will not produce a ‘silver bullet’. The EAG believes that effective delivery of the correct overall policy mix is required to set Northern Ireland on the long-term path to a more competitive, export-focused and, in time, prosperous region. The policies set out in these documents, if implemented, should play a significant part in bringing this about; and EAG will be active in monitoring their delivery.”