Northern Ireland

Máirtín Ó Muilleoir first Sinn Féin minister with NI economic brief

Máirtín Ó Muilleoir Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Máirtín Ó Muilleoir has a background in business and previously sat on Stormont's finance committee.

Máirtín Ó Muilleoir is the first Sinn Féin minister to hold a major economic brief in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

He has a background in business and previously sat on Stormont's finance committee.

His new role will include leading the implementation of the devolution of corporation tax, due to happen in 2018.

He will also need to spell out how Stormont's finances can afford that policy because the budget he will oversee will be falling in real terms.

The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy has calculated that, with continuing austerity, the effective real cut to the Stormont budget will be 5.3% by 2019-20.

Mr Ó Muilleoir's first major task will be the June monitoring round, a sort of mini-spending review where funds are redistributed between departments.

After that, work will have to begin on the construction of a multi-year budget to cover the next four years.

Other tasks in his in-tray include making decisions about change to business rates - for example, he'll have to decide whether charity shops will start paying rates.

Sinn Féin's assembly election manifesto also contained some specific commitments on the economy.

They included removing the rate cap on domestic properties with a value above £400,000 and introducing a tax on derelict land.

Will Mr Ó Muilleoir now push to legislate on those issues?

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