Corporation Tax: Warning that delay could cost new jobs
Significant job opportunities will be lost unless a reduced Corporation Tax is introduced into Northern Ireland, a business group has said.
Grow NI said companies were deferring decisions to invest due to the uncertainty over the future of the tax.
Corporation Tax is the tax that companies pay on their profits. The current UK rate is 21% whereas in the Republic of Ireland firms pay 12.5%.
The devolution of the tax was dependant on welfare reform being implemented.
However, the controversial Welfare Reform Bill failed to pass at Stormont on Tuesday night.
Eamonn Donaghy of Grow NI, a forum representing major business organisations, said: "The power to create tens of thousands of jobs is now within our grasp, but unless our politicians seize this opportunity it will jeopardise significant employment growth opportunities and will increase inequality in Northern Ireland."
He added: "Continued uncertainly around a start date and an agreed rate of corporation tax means that the private sector cannot compete on a level playing field with businesses in the Republic of Ireland.
"Only by having the same rate of corporation tax across the island will we see any significant increase in employment in Northern Ireland.
"Such a change would see increased investment from companies at home and abroad, creating jobs which are much needed in communities everywhere."
New legislation to devolve corporation tax to Northern Ireland was passed by the House of Lords in March.
Invest NI has said that a US business delegation has postponed a potential investment trip to Northern Ireland.
The jobs creation agency said it was because the Stormont executive had not yet set the rate of Corporation Tax to be introduced in Northern Ireland, or the date it will take effect.
It had previously been suggested Northern Ireland will cut its rate to 12.5%, to match Ireland, from April 2017.
Mr Donaghy said: "The evidence that companies abroad are deferring - sometimes permanently - decisions to invest in Northern Ireland is gravely concerning.
"All of us now understand that the election of a Tory government means that the only growth in employment in the future will come from the private sector, and reduced Corporation Tax will be key to deliver this.
"If our politicians fail to reduce Corporation Tax a future of low investment, net emigration and increased unemployment looks inevitable."
The legislation to allow Corporation Tax powers to be devolved to Stormont was published in January.
The government had aimed to pass the law before May's general election.
The Northern Ireland parties had agreed a deal on Westminster's welfare reform measures in the Stormont House Agreement last December.
However, Sinn Féin withdrew its support in March.