‘NIO Minister should not act as Treasury’s mudguard’ – Ritchie

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Tuesday, January 26th, 2016
The SDLP MP for South Down Margaret Ritchie has commented on Minister Wallace’s remarks regarding the refusal of the British Government to reduce VAT on tourism. Margaret RitchieSpeaking to Newry Times, Ritchie said, “The Northern Ireland Office Minister at Northern Ireland Questions simply parroted the Treasury line that VAT on tourism should not be reduced. “The Minister should be acting as a persuader for such a fiscal flexibility rather than the Treasury’s mudguard. Some elements within the Treasury have set their face against such a measure – even when their own financial modelling demonstrates how it would in fact be a revenue neutral measure. “Those in the hotel, hospitality and food sector know this as well as I and I am would expect Minister Wallace to know this too. The Minister also ignored the unique circumstances of Northern Ireland where VAT is levied at 20% and in Southern Ireland it is 9%. Absolutely no cognisance has been taken of the impact of such a high VAT rate on our local tourist economy which is a principal catalyst and driver for economic growth in an area like South Down with the majestic Mournes and the early Patrician/Christian heritage. “The evidence base has told us that in the first year of a reduction of VAT in Tourism in the South of Ireland 9,000 jobs were created. “The Northern Ireland Office needs to act as our economic and tourism champion at the Cabinet table and campaign for not only a Stay Vote in the European Union, but also the introduction of fiscal flexibilities such as the reduction of VAT on tourism. She added, “Informed Researchers have asserted that such a move is required to create opportunities for economic growth, sustaining existing jobs and creating new sources of employment in the hospitality and visitor area.”
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