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07 March 2012

'Real progress’ made at second ministerial meeting on rebalancing Northern Ireland economy

Ministers from the UK Government and Northern Ireland have today held the second meeting of the Ministerial Working Group on Rebalancing the Northern Ireland Economy. The group discussed the progress being made on the work programme agreed at their first meeting in December.

The meeting was chaired by Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, David Gauke. Other attendees were Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Owen Paterson; First Minister, Peter Robinson; deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness; Northern Ireland Minister for Finance and Personnel, Sammy Wilson and Northern Ireland Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Investment, Arlene Foster.

Speaking after the meeting, David Gauke said:

“This was a helpful second meeting of the Group and I am pleased that real progress is being made in exploring the key issues.  We have a joint commitment with the Northern Ireland Executive to rebalance the Northern Ireland economy and these discussions are vital as we consider how best to achieve this.  The potential devolution of Corporation Tax raises a number of difficult issues, but we have made significant steps in building a shared understanding of these in advance of a decision in the summer.”

Owen Paterson said:

“I'm encouraged by the progress made by the Ministerial Working Group on developing options for how a devolved corporation tax regime for Northern Ireland might look, as well as on the detail of how it might be administered.  Of course, the potential costs to the NI block grant are a key aspect of this work.  This is a complex issue and much work remains to be done, but I'm confident that we are some way along the road which will allow the Government to take a decision later in the year.”

Notes for Editors

1. The UK Government and the Northern Ireland Executive have a common objective to rebalance the Northern Ireland economy, to increase the size of the private sector and drive faster economic growth in the area.

2. The Ministerial Working Group was established to consider issues raised by the UK Government consultation on rebalancing the Northern Ireland economy. A response to this consultation was published on 20 December 2012 -

3. The Group first met in December when it agreed a programme of work -

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