Thursday 19 July 2018 10:54:28 AM

Retail NI Calls For Political Progress in 2018
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2018 Must See Political Progress -Retail NI New Year Message

In its New Year Message, Retail NI has described 2017 as a wasted year for local politics and urged the parties to redouble their efforts to re-establish an Executive.

Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said: “2017 was a year of wasted political opportunities for Northern Ireland”

“It is simply beyond belief that we have had an entire calendar year without a Government and with little immediate prospect of an Executive being restored. Our members and wider local business community deserve better than this.

“2018 must see political agreement and a new Executive hitting the ground running in tackling the key challenges facing our Economy.

“However, of immediate concern for Retail NI is the Finance Briefing Paper on the Northern Ireland Budgetary Outlook 2018-2020, which was released before Christmas.

“We are completely opposed to several of the revenue-raising options put forward in this paper in relation to the Regional Rate, Small Business Rate Relief Scheme and Car Parking charges.

“To even suggest as an option to substantially increase business rates is a non-starter. Far from increasing business rates, we need to see them decreased.

“71% of our members rates bills increased after the last revaluation and to further increase that burden would result in some of our members closing their businesses.

“What makes this proposal even more unacceptable, is that the Department of Finance also suggests ending the Small Business Rate Relief Scheme which would be a double whammy for our members and the wider small business sector.

“Retail NI and Hospitality Ulster have tabled proposals to improve the existing Small Business Rate Relief Scheme which we would urge any incoming Finance Minister to urgently consider.

“As if this was not bad enough, the paper also suggests a hike in on-street car parking charges and actually puts forward the idea of extending them to other parts of our towns and cities. This would drive shoppers away from our town centres towards the big out of town multi nationals with their free car parking.

“Retail NI is utterly opposed to these three revenue raising proposals and given the economic impact they would have, amazed that they are even included as viable options.

“We will be writing out to all of the local party leaders and the Secretary of State outlining our complete opposition to these so called ‘options’” said Glyn Roberts.