It’s the economy everybody

The BBC is predicting that the Executive’s Programme will have a strong economic focus. It argues this is a shift from the past programmes which had a social policy focus.

  • snakebrain

    Isn’t it interesting that, of all those with an interest in NI politics who contribute on SoT, nobody has anything to say about the economic future of the region? I’d have thought economics was the backbone of politics, but maybe it’s just too difficult to find sectarian agendas or flat-earthers amidst all those numbers.

  • GavBelfast

    The bruiser was in particularly bruising, bad-tempered form on ‘Hearts and Minds’ tonight.

  • IJP

    Only two posts?

    On something as fundamental as the economy?

    I’m shocked!

    (Newton had it right, as often.)

  • snakebrain

    Ok, let’s see if we can provoke a little discussion.

    Corporation tax is the obvious place to start. Is a rate change to harmonise with RoI a) possible? b) a likely strategy for success?

    Just where are the financial and corporate interests intended to fill up our newly cleared Titanic quarter going to come from, and more importantly, why? What does NI have to offer international financial institutions etc? We don’t have a pool of highly skilled workers to draw on, we have no track record in these areas, so what makes it inevitable that businesses like these will choose to site themselves in Belfast, especially when just 50 miles south is a nation that does have a skilled workforce and a developed environment in which to do business?

    What is the Assembly able to do to encourage grass-roots growth of small businesses? Darling has just removed most of the tax incentives that made the UK an ok place to run a small business for the past 10 or so years, taking the capital gains rate up from 10% to 18%, a move that will make the UK an extremely hostile environment for SMEs. In the absence of freedom to set our own tax regime, what can be done locally to encourage growth in the crucial small business sector?

    More generally, what can be done to foster a positive entrepreneurial environment, that makes NI a logical choice for developing and growing a business?

    We’ve had it too easy for too long. Sticking our heads in the sand of sectarian debate is not going to wash for much longer. Sooner, rather than later, we are going to have to produce solid, sustainable economic growth of our own, without any help from outside. The global marketplace is a highly refined sophisticated machine, and here in NI we are, frankly, one generation away from an agrarian economy. We have somehow to make ourselves part of that global system, as seamlessly and rapidly as possible.

    It’s not going to be easy.

  • The Raven

    “We don’t have a pool of highly skilled workers to draw on”

    We do. We just have to wrest them back from Blighty and the other three corners of the earth. So what’s the offer? “Come back, everything’s roses in the garden”? Hm. Must try harder.

    “What is the Assembly able to do to encourage grass-roots growth of small businesses?”

    Encourage the development of Business Improvement Districts. Allow Councils the right to levy rates breaks on start-ups. Ensure Councils are using more than the traditional 5p-in-the-pound for economic development. Take some funding off INI to allow them to offer more grass-roots programmes. Ensure the new Rural Development Programme has a clear focus on economic development. I could go on, but I won’t.

    “More generally, what can be done to foster a positive entrepreneurial environment, that makes NI a logical choice for developing and growing a business?”

    That, my friend, is in the area of mind-set change, and I don’t work in that field. However, I will say this. The rate of people investigating self-employment is rising rapidly as can be evidenced by the SABp figures. Even the migrant workers here are having a bash. It’s a question of time. A friend of mine worked in Bulgaria and Albania for a time – he compared the Northern Irish mindset to that of those communist countries – “do nothing unless it is provided for you”. We’ll catch up with the south soon enough, don’t worry.

  • DC

    “in NI we are, frankly, one generation away from an agrarian economy”

    If even that, given the red meat market and customer demand for lower meat prices ultimately arising from this globalised marketplace.

  • snakebrain

    I’m still a bit disgusted with the Slugger-ites who are busily debating the relevance of Che Guevara’s teachings to the IRAs campaign, and the precise distinctions between various political hues, while the elephant in the room of this province has attracted precisely 6 comments in a day.

    Angels dancing on the head of a pin, anybody?

  • IJP

    Nice try snakebrain, but that’s Che Guevara 74, The Economy 7.

    At least The Economy converted the try it scored…

  • IJP


    One paragraph at a time.

    If only!

    a) No, not really.
    b) Yes, but not on its own.

    Good points all.

    It could start by a) not passing motions opposing tax-varying powers (necessary for changes in corporation tax); and b) actually passing some legislation to show we have a government that functions, particularly reference pay disputes and strikes.

    Cutting back on public-sector dependency (and yes, that means Civil Service jobs – you heard it from Peter Robinson first).

    Agreed. Debates carried out for the sake of sectarian one-up-man-ship, of which we’ve already seen far too many, will get us precisely nowhere.

    Agreed – but it is possible.

    The Raven is spot on on all points.

    PS: A converted try to three penalties – Che must be quaking in his boots.

  • snakebrain

    Che ended up in an unmarked grave in Bolivia, and Cuba ended up a basket-case, while the powers that be capitalism went about their business of taking over the world. Still, he’s probably more exciting, and you get to talk about the last century’s politics a lot. Not that that would be something Northern Ireland likes to do.

    Unlucky, Che.

  • snakebrain

    Mick, Pete, Chris, Gonzo

    Nothing on house prices in NI falling 8% in the past month?

    Given that house price growth equalled all other economic activity in NI over the past 4 years, I rather think this might be of some relevance.

    Or are you all mortgaged up on variable rates and trying not to think about it?

  • IJP


    To be fair, you didn’t name me and I’m lucky enough to live in a property owned outright. But to respond because no one else is likely to (this thread is after all only about the economy)…

    The 8% figure is from only one survey. There’s been a heck of a lot of nonsense talked about house prices. Hence no comment on my part.

    That doesn’t mean it’s not relevant, mind! So a few notes:
    – it seems NI is much more in line with RoI than GB on house prices (yet actually there’s much less real evidence of Southerners buying up in the North, particularly East of the Bann, than people are led to believe);
    – it seems ‘new prosperity’ has led to an assumption across the British Isles that property is an utterly safe investment (Berliners and Tokyoers may care to disagree); and
    – however, the ‘feel-good factor’ associated with the property price boom has helped promote better conditions for investment (and, in fact, political progress).

    However, only a fool predicts anything in economics or politics, far less both intertwined. After all, Brown was a colossus on Monday morning, a puppet master on Tuesday afternoon, and a whimpering wreck by Wednesday evening. A week is a long time indeed…