Northern Ireland

CBI opposes executive's 'big shop' levy plan

Sammy Wilson
Image caption Finance Minister Sammy Wilson has defended the proposal

The big business lobby group, the CBI, is opposing the executive's plan to introduce a levy on large shops.

Finance Minister Sammy Wilson is considering introducing a levy to make large stores pay more rates while charging smaller businesses less.

The scheme is aimed at halting the decline of the high street and supporting small shop-owners.

But the CBI said the proposal is at odds with the executive's claim of putting the economy first.

Its Northern Ireland chairman, Terence Brannigan, described it as an ill-thought through proposal which would damage efforts to encourage retail investment in Northern Ireland.

He said it would undermine city and town centre regeneration as about 60% of those forced to pay more will be shops in town centres rather than those in out-of-town locations.

He warned that Belfast City centre would be badly affected.

The finance minister defended the proposal in the past, saying he would carefully consider all submissions he receives from the business community.