Minister Denies Call to Scrap Top Tax an 'Embarrassment' EXPERT SIGNS LETTER THAT IS CRITICAL OF LABOUR POLICY

Article excerpt

Byline: RHODRI EVANS

A CALL by the chairman of one of the Welsh Government's sector panels to scrap the 50p tax rate was last night described as a "severe embarrassment" for Business Minister Edwina Hart.

Vinci chief operating officer David Joyce, who was appointed to chair the construction panel by Mrs Hart in September, was a signatory to a letter to the Daily Telegraph calling for the early end of the top tax rate and for greater investment in infrastructure.

The issue of scrapping the current top tax rate has been a political hot potato, with proponents claiming a cut would encourage entrepreneurism and investment, and opponents saying that it is wrong to cut taxes for the rich in a financial crisis.

In the letter 30 leading business figures said: "An early removal of the temporary 50% rate would attract wealth generators to the United Kingdom and support the entrepreneurs we need to help us grow the economy and provide jobs.

"We await the conclusions of the HMRC evaluation of the sums raised by the 50% rate; however, we are confident that the cost to the Treasury, if any, in the short term will not be material and that the advantages over the life of this Parliament in terms of generally increased economic activity will more than outweigh any direct costs."

On the subject of investment in infrastructure, the letter said: "The announcement of a long-term, planned, acceleration of investment will provide an immediate and important confidence boost together with a sustainable increase in economic activity and jobs in the medium term."

Plaid Cymru economy spokesman Alun Ffred Jones said that the call to scrap the 50p tax rate and the call for further infrastructure investment were both at odds with the Welsh Government's stance. …