Naomi Long MP said: “This budget appears to have been mainly directed at the South East of England, so I am disappointed that the Chancellor has neglected to look at solving some of the Northern Ireland financial issues that remain in Westminster. I would like to remind him that he is Chancellor for the UK and not just the Conservative part of England.
“I was disappointed that there was no mention of efforts to combat high fuel prices here. We have traditionally had fuel prices that were higher than other regions in the UK, with fuel laundering being a contributing factor.
“The decision to devolve air passenger duty rates for long haul flights was already agreed, so it is hardly new.
“The decision to reduce corporation tax to 24% now and 22% by 2014 will not affect a lot of our businesses as most pay the lower limit of 20%. I am disappointed that the Chancellor could not commit more efforts to devolving corporation tax rates to the Northern Ireland Assembly as we face the competition of a 14% rate in the Republic of Ireland. If we are to reach that level at the current rates of the lowering of corporation tax then it would take a decade to do so.
“The increase to the income tax threshold will benefit a large number of people here, but there were few measures to help lift people out of low paid jobs. This is more of a short term measure than a long term solution. Indeed, there is little in today’s budget that will see the massive strides to improve growth which is needed if the UK intends to recover following the economic downturn.
“The suggestion for regionalised pay could have far reaching implications for Northern Ireland. This proposal could affect efforts to rebalance the our economy towards the private sector.
“There were some announcements in the Budget to welcome such as the ultra fast broadband and wi-fi for Belfast, and the tax credit for tv and film productions but overall there is little to be extremely positive about.”