Getting beyond the mendicant’s bowl…

The FT loses no time in getting to the point of having peace: building up rather than tearing down. In its leader today it argues that Northern Ireland should waste no time in getting its fiscal house in order.

Northern Ireland lacks the freedom to determine its own fiscal arrangements in the way that the Republic of Ireland’s decision to set a corporation tax rate of 12.5 per cent has helped it develop a vibrant economy. Yet even without that particular lever, the executive could still make the province a more attractive place to do business, for example by the way it allocates funding or approaches regulation.

The ministers in the newly-formed executive have little time to lose. This is a moment of goodwill, when there is the strongest chance of support across the European Union for special measures to help Northern Ireland. Over time, sentiment may become less generous while the UK taxpayer may become more grudging about the extent of public subsidy available to the province’s population. Self-government must become the spur for greater self-sufficiency, before the pictures of Mr Paisley and Mr McGuinness working together become unexceptional rather than extraordinary.

  • On any measure, it is evident that the private sector is too small, and that the province is less productive than it could be. The government directly employs about one-third of the workforce, and accounts for almost two-thirds of economic output. The proportion of people of working age who are economically inactive is 27.7 per cent – the highest percentage of the 12 UK regions, and well above the UK average of 21.4 per cent.

    Well, that’s largely repeating what The Economist was saying at the end of March [my post at http://redfellow.blogspot.com/2007_03_01_archive.html%5D and for which I was well and truly slugged here.

    Like it or not, that’s going to be the regular cri-de-coeur of middle England, particular as the middle-weight papers take up the “Tax Cuts” issue to keep the “policy-lite” Cameroonies afloat until next General Election.

    If you’re on the gravy-train, enjoy it while it’s still running!

  • Aquifer

    Favours for their friends or a golden but volatile future?

    SFDUP will likely bribe their voters with public money, keeping them poorer, dependent, and divided.

    The voters can stay to keep SFDUP politics alive while businesses move sixty miles down the road.