Northern Ireland needs more enterprise zones

Exciting times for the private sector are afoot in Northern Ireland. After the recently announced introduction of 21 enterprise zones in England which will have more efficient planning procedures, fast broadband and reduced rates to promote economic growth in the area, Chancellor George Osborne said that he hoped Northern Ireland could follow suit.

However, Sammy Wilson, the Northern Ireland finance minister is reticent in putting these in place in their current form. There are a few reasons for Mr. Wilson’s hesitation. One of these reasons is that the economy of the country is quite unique from the English economy and a mere copy of the plans laid out for England would not work.

However, Francis Martin of the Chamber of Commerce was very upbeat about the budget stating that certain initiatives such as proposed changes to Enterprise Investment Scheme would be of great value for Northern Ireland businesses. In fact, Mr. Martin was so positive about the idea that he suggested that the whole of Northern Ireland be considered an enterprise zone. This sentiment is echoed at some of the higher levels as well.

Certain measures included in the enterprise zones would be of great benefit to local businesses. These initiatives include capital allowances, fuel duties, research and development tax incentives and tax thresholds. This, when combined with the proposed extension of the Northern Ireland credit scheme till 2021, is a great step forward in the economic recovery of the country.