'NI too dependent on public purse'

'NI too dependent on public purse'

Secretary of State Theresa Villiers has warned that Northern Ireland "remains far too dependent on public spending".

Ms Villiers made the comments to politicians and business leaders at a Stormont dinner on Thursday, where she discussed how economic growth could be restored to the UK and Northern Ireland.

She said that around three quarters of the region's GDP was reportedly reliant on public spending, which "isn't sustainable" and would not "underpin economic activity".

She also said that the private sector needs to be revived as unemployment levels are still too high.

The Secretary of State praised local "world class" companies such as Wrightbus, Bombardier and Bushmills as examples of local businesses thriving globally.

She highlighted a number of measures being taken by Whitehall to help boost Northern Ireland's reputation and economy.

These included devolving long-haul Air Passenger Duty and Londonderry receiving a £13m investment to create "super-connected cities".

Ms Villiers said Prime Minister David Cameron personally chose to bring the G8 Summit of world leaders to Co Fermanagh "to show the world how much it has achieved".

"Here in Northern Ireland in June we'll welcome eight of the most powerful leaders in the world when the G8 Summit takes place in Co Fermanagh. It's an opportunity to highlight the very best of Northern Ireland on a global stage," she said.

Ms Villiers said the PM was still considering the case for devolving Corporation Tax powers to the Assembly, and would be discussing this with the First and deputy First Ministers next week.

She commented: "Just like my predecessor, Owen Paterson, I believe that devolving Corporation Tax has the potential to stimulate significant economic growth in Northern Ireland and that's a case I am making to my Cabinet colleagues in Westminster."

© UTV

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