Naomi Long MP said: “The need to attract investment and encourage home-grown businesses is paramount in growing the Northern Ireland economy and bringing opportunities for employment here. But the biggest barrier to that is the financial cost of division, which is still placing restrictions in areas such as health, transport and education among others.
“With an estimated £1 billion a year being wasted on propping up this outdated model, the clear way to rebalance our economy is to tackle this and prove that talk of a shared society is not just that.”
Mrs Long will also raise the issue of hotel VAT in Northern Ireland, a topic she has previously discussed with Chancellor George Osborne. The current VAT rate in the UK is at 20 per cent for hotel services, however, the Republic of Ireland’s is at 9 per cent.
“For hotels in Northern Ireland, particularly those near the border, this competitive disadvantage makes life extremely difficult. Due to our over-reliance on the public sector, the tourism industry can deliver private sector growth as long as the conditions are there.
“With extremely positive reviews of Northern Ireland as a destination and the success of our golfers among other things, investment and support for this sector would bring tangible benefits.
“A reduction in VAT would bring constructive changes, evening up the playing field and resulting in long-term tax gains. Such a vital move would see the same success in Northern Ireland as it has done in other European countries.”
The Belfast East MP added that prioritising the green economy would also bring economic benefits.
“The issues of creating new jobs and tackling climate change are not mutually exclusive, with Northern Ireland being in a great position to be able to become a global leader in renewables, given our rich natural resources.
“With the environment being one of the fastest growing sectors of the world’s economy, embracing green energy will bring thousands of jobs by building wind turbines and harnessing tidal technology. Research and development of renewable energy technology could be a tremendously lucrative sector for Northern Ireland to be involved in.”