Posted on Thursday 7 February 2013 by Ulster Business

Iod mervyn

The Chairman of the Institute of Directors in Northern Ireland has urged the Executive to "get serious about backing businesses" and establish a £250m fund to aid business growth.

Addressing business leaders at the IoD NI Annual Dinner in the Europa Hotel on Thursday night, Mervyn McCall said "a fund of this size would demonstrate the Government is resolute in encouraging local companies".

He added that it would also attract support from the European Investment Bank which has indicated it would co-finance a fund of this size.

"The money needs to cover all aspects of our economy - high-tech start ups, budding entrepreneurs, first time exporters and established businesses requiring funding for growth and working capital," said Mr McCall.

"I don't believe it's possible for the banks to begin lending again on the scale required anytime soon and we can't wait for the next initiative from No 11. To date, none of George Osborne's programmes have had any effect on businesses in Northern Ireland. We need a local solution.

"The Department of Finance and Personnel, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment and Invest NI have implemented some good initiatives which are helping growth but they are just not enough."

The IoD chairman told his audience that the Northern Ireland economy needed an export-focused business community with the attitude to match, a business friendly environment and low business taxes.

"Northern Ireland suffers because of its lack of competitiveness. In areas like Newry or Derry, the Republic may only be a few miles away but it is an impossible gap as far as taxes are concerned," he said.

"We must also have the economic benefit at the heart of planning decisions, just as it should be at the heart of all decisions by the Executive."


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