Published Thursday, 18 October 2012
The devolution of corporation tax will be discussed by the Prime Minister. (© Getty)
Proposals for reducing the business tax rate to 12.5%, in line with the Republic of Ireland, will be handed to David Cameron at the end of the month.
It comes after the First and deputy First Minister agreed the recommendations during a Ministerial Working Group meeting with the Treasury in London on Thursday.
Peter Robinson said: "This is a step in the right direction. We have now shown through the work that we have done that it can be done.
"We think it is overwhelmingly beneficial to business in Northern Ireland if we can have the tax-setting powers and we are able to reduce the level of corporation tax."
Martin McGuinness said: "I hope that over the course of the next short while we can bring this to a successful conclusion but I emphasis it will be a political decision and it will be David Cameron's decision.
"The reality is that we have on the island of Ireland an administration that has a corporation tax level of 12.5%. That has created massive difficulties for us in terms of attracting the numbers of new investors in the north so it's crucial for us to create a level playing field."
The ministers said they have looked at the mechanisms and what the costs of setting the tax rate could be and want to have a meeting with Mr Cameron before the decision is taken.
NI Secretary Theresa Villiers, who also attended the meeting, said: "It is obviously important for the Prime Minister to take into account both the practicalities of devolving corporation tax but also the wider constitutional issues. I'm sure that will be part of his consideration as well."
Advocates of the tax plan believe it will improve the region's ability to attract investment and allow NI to compete on a level playing field with the Republic.
However the cost would be a loss of Assembly finding from Westminster.
Meanwhile the chairman of the Institute of Directors (IoD) warned against focusing on the possible implications for Scotland if NI was to gain corporation tax.
Mervyn McCall said: "Scotland has not asked for the power to devolve corporation tax. Indeed, several Scottish business organisations have rejected it as a proposal.
"The cost of lowering corporation tax to 12.5% would be over £2bn per annum in Scotland. It would have little or no impact on their economy.
"In Northern Ireland we have won the economic argument and all parties agree that lowering corporation tax will create jobs, jobs and more jobs."
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