Stephen Farry stated: “There is no future for Northern Ireland in trying to compete on the basis of low labour costs.
“In a globalising economy, the only way for regions such as Northern Ireland to remain competitive in the face of the challenge from emerging economies such as India and China is to proceed on the basis of a skilled workforce producing quality goods and services.
“Northern Ireland faces numerous economic challenges, not least developing our economy, increasing the private sector relative to the public sector, and making our public finances more stable.
“The areas of the economy where low wages tend to paid actually make comparatively little impact on GDP growth.
“Northern Ireland needs to able to attract a considerable amount of inward investment over the next few years. A variation in the fiscal arrangements across the UK, in particular corporation tax, would be much more beneficial than a variation in the level of the minimum wage.
“It must also be stressed that Northern Ireland has the largest proportion of economically inactive people as a share of its potential workforce of all regions in the UK at 29%. Lowering the minimum wage is not going to make addressing this major structural problem any easier.”