The deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness today gave the keynote address at the ‘Let’s Talk Business’ lunch hosted by the Newry Chamber of Commerce and Trade.
The deputy First Minister talked about the global economy, the priority the Executive places on growing the economy and the valuable contribution of local businesses.
The deputy First Minister said: “Events like this hosted by the Newry Chamber of Commerce and Trade are important as they provide a forum for an exchange of views on how we can collectively grow our economy. Newry has a vibrant business community with an abundance of entrepreneurial spirit and a thirst for success. This energy and enthusiasm has kept the wheels of the economy turning during what has been very challenging economic period.
“At a time of elections, north and south and a referendum on Europe it’s vitally important the Executive, Invest NI, Councils and local stakeholders continue to work together to rebuild and rebalance our economy. We must support businesses and we have done that during this Programme for Government by almost £30million of support offered by Invest NI to locally-owned businesses in the Newry, Mourne and Down Council area.”
Commenting on the economy, Martin McGuinness said: “Even in the face of a global economic collapse, the Executive has succeeded in growing the economy since 2011.
“Foreign Direct Investment is an area where we continue to punch well above our weight. Since 2006, almost 27,000 new jobs have been promoted through inward investment and £3.25billion in total planned investment secured.
“We must continue to attract investment and create and retain jobs. The power to set our own rate of corporation tax from April 2018 will be another massive draw when it comes to securing Foreign Direct Investment.”
Speaking about the performance of the Executive, Martin McGuinness added: “Decisions taken by the Executive by locally elected and accountable politicians continue to make a real and positive difference to people’s lives. This Executive has created more than 40,000 jobs, spent over £90million a week delivering the range of health and social care services across the north, stopped the introduction of water charges, kept our rates bill lower than the rest of the UK, kept prescriptions free for everyone and protected free domiciliary care.
“In addition, we have supported our students with tuition fees for local students at Queen’s and Ulster University which are a third lower than those studying in England. We have stopped the introduction of the bedroom tax, unlike the rest of the UK, prevented unmitigated welfare cuts through agreeing a range of welfare changes to continue to support the most vulnerable across society, and provided free travel for pensioners.”
In closing the deputy First Minister said: “Our young people must have the right skills for the marketplace, but equally important, we must create the conditions, economically, socially and politically to give them the opportunity to build their lives and careers at home if that’s what they want to do.”