Wales Should Get Northern Ireland's Tax Opportunity

Article excerpt


* OR the past few days, I have been slightly out of the loop hosting a conference in Cardiff for the University of Wales.

The world's first summit on the geospatial cyber-physical supply chain brought together leading scientists from some of the world's top universities to discuss key issues in this critically important area.

It was a fantastic event with professors from institutions such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Harvard University, Oxford University, University of Memphis, Boston University and the University of Central Florida creating an international masterclass of discussion and dialogue with other representatives from the United Nations, US Department of Defense, Northrop Grumman, Microsoft and IBM.

Needless to say, the outcome of the conference, apart from creating 60 ambassadors for Wales, could create significant opportunities for the Welsh economy.

As a result of spending time at this successful event, it was only yesterday that I finally got the chance to examine the effect of the Budget on the Welsh economy.

Given that George's Osborne's ability to make any major changes to spending or taxation was severely hampered by the requirement for reducing the large deficit run up by the previous Labour administration, it is worth noting some of the positive measures that could help the Welsh economy to grow during the next few years.

First of all, the decision to reduce the main rate of corporation tax to 26% from April will be welcomed by many of the medium-sized and larger companies in Wales. However, I would like to see the Chancellor indicate that there will be a similar decrease to the small business rate as well during the next few years, given that we keep hearing from politicians that small businesses are the "backbone of the economy".

Many small businesses will be glad that this is a Government that is finally tackling the mountains of regulations that bedevil entrepreneurs every year and are introducing a moratorium that will exempt micro and start-up businesses from new domestic regulation for three years. Along with the move to drop existing proposals for specific regulations that would have cost business more than pounds 350m, this is long overdue, especially as some surveys suggest that owner-managers of smaller firms spend up to three days a week dealing with government bureaucracy. With the Welsh Assembly Government looking to boost innovation across a number of technology-based sectors such as biosciences, advanced manufacturing and the creative industries, the increase in tax relief from 175% to 200%, with the aim to increase it further in 2012, could have a significant effect on businesses in these critical industries. …