Alliance Party Finance Spokesperson, Stephen Farry, has acknowledged the ambitious and progressive agenda of the Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir in his proposals for reform of the rating system, but expressed concern at the apparent absence of Executive support for the reforms and the mixed messages being issued with respect to how the Executive is supporting regeneration.
Stephen Farry stated: “Alliance does recognise that the Finance Minister has set out a very ambitious, and in many ways progressive, agenda for reform of the rating system. There is a shared recognition with us that the rating system is not just a means of raising revenue for government, but can be a tool for supporting our economy and also achieving wider policy outcomes.
“There is the potential through some of these proposals to not just increase fairness in terms of the system, but to encourage better economic, social and environmental outcomes, much stronger investment in skills, greater levels of investment and regeneration, and better energy efficiency.
“We will study these detailed proposals and engage with the public consultation. However, even at this stage, there is a risk that these proposals constitute a false dawn given that DUP MLAs are already stating their opposition, and in the past considerable populism has been displayed around rates. Furthermore, the apparent support for regeneration in this Ministerial initiative stands in sharp contrast with the failure to date of the Executive to transfer regeneration powers to District Councils. Different parts of the Executive and even different parts of the same government parties seem to be operating in contradictory ways.”