Northern Ireland

Corporation tax powers 'would change Invest NI role'

Invest NI
Image caption Invest NI would become more of a promotion agency overseas, Mr Hamilton said

Invest NI will become less of a "grant giving body" to overseas firms if Northern Ireland gets corporation tax powers, the organisation's chief executive has said.

But Alastair Hamilton has said more will need to be spent promoting the region as an investment location.

He was speaking on the BBC's Inside Business programme

"Things are starting to look like we might finally get a positive answer," he said.

"If, once we deliver corporation tax, our business changes much more into a promotion agency overseas, rather than a grant giving body."

A decision on whether Northern Ireland gets the power to reduce the tax to 12.5%, as in the Republic of Ireland, is due to be made by Prime Minister David Cameron in the coming weeks.

If it happens, Mr Hamilton said his "plea" to politicians would be to spend on promoting the new rate.

"You only have to look at the Irish Development Agency's budget for advertising and marketing to see the scale that they have to go to to promote the tool," he said.

"We would be competing with 300 other agencies internationally to promote our message and we will have a new message, hopefully, that we need to get out there."

Invest NI is expected to make savings as part of the wider public sector finance squeeze.

But at the same time, the executive is committed to paying £250m in grants to companies to deliver on their jobs pledges over the next five years.

Mr Hamilton said these were "legally-binding commitments" to firms which had already announced investment projects.

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