Government’s economic strategy is faltering
SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood has said today that the incoming Government must change course on its singular fixation with Corporation Tax as an economic panacea by investing in skills and regional economic balance.
“There will rightly be concerns today about figures produced by Ernst and Young which show a dramatic decline in FDI projects in Northern Ireland. For some time now, the First and deputy First Ministers have set themselves up as an expert team in attracting foreign investment but these figures reveal that their economic strategy is seriously faltering.
“This should come as little surprise. An economic strategy based on travelling the globe promising tax breaks for big businesses while at the same time disinvesting in higher education, skills and student places was never a sustainable, or desirable, plan. Corporation Tax is a useful tool but it’s not the economic panacea that some have raised it to, it’s a new coat of paint on a house with subsiding foundations.
“Today’s figures also reveal the gulf between the devolved nations. Scotland, for example, secured 119 FDI projects last year. Eight times as many as Northern Ireland. We need to increase the scale of our ambition and prioritise a highly skilled workforce as the engine room of our aspiration.
“The SDLP announced proposals for an immediate investment in skills to enhance our economy and generate sustainable growth. Increasing student places and apprenticeships, cutting tuition fees and creating skills clusters would fashion a sustainable economic dynamic capable of attracting new growth industries.
“A 62% decline in FDI projects is not the most auspicious start to a new government. It’s critical that the next Government implements progressive economic policies and moves beyond becoming a one-trick-pony.”