NORTHERN Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry (NI Chamber) hosted a business roundtable with the Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond last week.
Speaking at the event, which took place in Limavady and attended by eight of Northern Ireland’s top firms, Ellvena Graham, President of Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: “The message from businesses was that the Government must use the Autumn Budget to prioritise ways of getting businesses investing – in these challenging times it is really important that we have a Budget that puts the economy at the centre.”
She continued “Government must do everything it can to improve the areas that are in its control, such as skills, training and infrastructure, to increase business confidence. Businesses also require incentives for investment and we urge the Chancellor to consider an increase in investment allowances.
“Our members also outlined how business costs are reducing margins significantly. For example the Apprenticeship Levy and the cost to SMEs of administrating auto enrolment. Further increases will continue to reduce business confidence.”
She concluded: “It was also encouraging to hear the Chancellor talk about the huge opportunities that the new technologies of the 4th Industrial Revolution can bring to the Northern Ireland economy.
“If businesses can see movement in these areas, they will be more confident and invest.”
Other areas discussed at the meeting included Brexit, the lack of an Executive, addressing NI’s low productivity, City Deals and the importance of key infrastructure projects such as the North South Interconnector.