Times welcomes North tax bid

The Irish Times has welcomed the move by Belfast political leaders to bring the North's corporate tax regime in line with, least close to or even lower than the level that exists in the Republic.

British Prime Minister David Cameron's expressed willingness to open the door to a reduction in Northern Ireland's 26 percent corporation tax rate represents a welcome and significant advance in political devolution and economic empowerment, the Times opined in an editorial.

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"The decision is not made yet - the consultation process launched by the Treasury will not close until June 24th - but strong expectations have been raised which are unlikely to be dashed," the editorial stated.

And it continued: "That said, the devil will be in the detail. Issues ranging from the timing and scale of the cut - some parties want to go lower than the Republic's 12.5 percent - to the scope of tax-varying powers devolved, have the potential sharply to divide the Northern parties from each other and from London. And, not least, on how to deal with the effects of the likely knock-on cut of some £300 million a year in the North's block grant from London.

The editorial noted that Cameron's main thrust was "music to the ears" of the cross-community political and business consensus that has, in recent months, "loudly embraced" the idea that competing on business tax rates with the Republic can be a powerful engine for growth.