18 August 2015

  |  CBI Northern Ireland


Public and private sector engagement critical for economic growth in NI

More than 100 senior business leaders attended an exclusive CBI lunch briefing with the Finance Minister Arlene Foster this afternoon (18 August) to discuss how the public and private sectors can work together to address the key challenges facing Northern Ireland’s business community. 

Public and private sector engagement critical for economic growth in NI

The event took place at the Hilton Hotel Belfast, and also included insights from Paul Terrington, Regional Chairman at PwC and Richard Donnan, new Head of Ulster Bank in Northern Ireland.

CBI Northern Ireland Vice Chair, David Gavaghan said:

“Never has the need for our local ministers to engage with business been more urgent - private enterprise is at the heart of the transformation of the economy. CBI greatly welcomes today’s constructive meeting with the Minister of Finance. Through a meaningful engagement between business leaders and locally elected representatives, we must together provide the leadership to create a more sustainable economy which delivers opportunities for everyone.”

“We recognise the critical importance of putting the region’s public finances on a sustainable footing and the imperative for us all to operate within our financial means. Political and economic stability are an essential ingredient to business and consumer confidence. It is increasingly apparent that the economy in the rest of the UK (and Ireland) is forging ahead. Critical decisions need to be taken by our local political representatives in the next few weeks otherwise are we are in danger of undermining our much needed economic recovery.

Finance Minister, Arlene Foster said: I very much welcome the opportunity to engage with the CBI on issues of great importance to Northern Ireland’s business community. Members will be all too aware of the critical stage we have reached in Northern Ireland’s public finances. It is now absolutely crucial for our economic prospects that all parties follow through on implementing the Stormont House Agreement, including the key issue of Welfare Reform.”

The Minister continued: “Growing our economy remains the Executive’s number one priority. Northern Ireland’s private sector has been the driving force in our economic recovery and we must continue to support businesses to invest and grow. I am acutely aware of the challenges faced by firms in Northern Ireland as they seek to exploit business opportunities. I want to create opportunities for growth, which is why I have placed such a priority on securing the devolution of Corporation Tax powers, and the Executive is working hard to generate skills and develop our economic infrastructure to sustain progress and maximise the potential benefits in a reduced corporation tax environment.”

Download copy of the Minister's speech

Commenting, Paul Terrington, Regional Chairman with PwC in Northern Ireland said

“I welcome the Finance Minister’s direct engagement today and her commitment to improve the competitiveness of the public and private sectors. We need to maintain conversations between Ministers and the business community on the challenges we collectively face and how we are going to address them.

“So far this year, we’ve had a General Election, a Summer Budget, a UK Productivity Plan and in a few weeks the Executive will submit proposals that will be incorporated in November’s Spending Review; a Review that will take a further £20bn out of UK public spending.

“Much of the political focus in Northern Ireland is around the distribution of public money rather than on the productivity gains that can make our businesses internationally competitive and our location internationally attractive.

“Addressing modernisation, productivity and service delivery across the public and private sectors will start a process that can deliver improved wages, sustainable employment and the increased added-value that will generate much-needed tax revenues.

“Today was particularly useful and I hope we can continue the dialogue.”

This was echoed by Richard Donnan, MD Retail Banking and Corporate and SME Banking in NI:

“Today’s discussion has taken place at a critical time for Northern Ireland’s economy and for our politicians.

“As Westminster focuses on devolving more fiscal powers to Scotland, Wales and the north of England, Northern Ireland will need to ensure its economy is capable of adapting to the changing dynamics within the UK and elsewhere.

“The rapid bulk of technological development poses challenges but also opportunities for improved productivity, competitiveness and improved service delivery in the private sector and public sector.

“In this context, Northern Ireland will need to adapt its economy to thrive. That will mean political and business leaders taking brave decisions. We will also need to use all the fiscal powers at our disposal as other nations and regions in the UK and elsewhere use theirs to attract inward investment and increase trade.

“Regular conversations like today’s between the Government and the business community are vital if we are to honestly assess the challenges our economy faces and seize the opportunities that are also there.”


CAPTION (L-R): Richard Donnan, Ulster Bank, Paul Terrington, PwC, Arlene Foster, Finance Minister, David Gavaghan, CBI vice chair.

Across the UK, the CBI speaks on behalf of 190,000 businesses of all sizes and sectors which together employ nearly 7 million people, about one third of the private sector-employed workforce. With offices in the UK as well as representation in Brussels, Washington, Beijing and Delhi, the CBI communicates the British business voice around the world. The CBI in Northern Ireland represents around 1/3 of the private sector workforce, and more than 60% of the largest employers in Northern Ireland. It is the leading business organisation influencing the policies of the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly.

Paul Terrington, Regional Chairman, PwC
PwC is Northern Ireland’s largest firm of professional advisors with over 1,200 professional staff. The firm publishes regular and authoritative assessments of the Northern Ireland economy and associated policy issues ranging from productivity and manufacturing performance to Air Passenger Duty and Corporation Tax devolution. Paul gained significant experience across all aspects of Human Resources advisory work at strategic and organisational levels and particularly on the impacts of change on human capital in large public and private sector organisations. Paul's specialisation is in the area of anticipating, planning and delivering corporate transformation and strategic change across public and private sector organisations and he has worked extensively in this field in Northern Ireland, GB and further afield.

Richard Donnan, Managing Director, Retail Banking and Corporate and SME NI
Ulster Bank is the largest bank in Northern Ireland, serving 700,000 customers across retail, corporate and SME banking and is part of the Royal Bank of Scotland Group.  Richard Donnan was appointed to the role of Managing Director, Retail Banking in January 2011 and in June 2015, in addition to his current role, he assumed responsibility for the SME Bank and the Corporate and Institutional Bank for Northern Ireland. Commencing his career in branch banking in 1989, Richard has held a number of senior positions across Ulster Bank and RBS across both retail and business banking. He was appointed to the Ulster Bank Executive in 2011. Richard is a Graduate member of the Institute of Bankers and has the Professional Banking Diploma and a graduate Queen’s University Belfast. He is a Member of the Board of Trustees of the MAC (Metropolitan Arts Centre) in Belfast and a Member of the Board of The Centre for Competitiveness

Ulster Bank Business Achievers Awards 2015 https://www.businessachieversaward.com

Media Enquiries

Anthea Savage, Communications & Events Executive, CBI Northern Ireland. DL: 028 9010 1117; M: 07772491506; E: anthea.savage@cbi.org.uk;

Follow us on Twitter: CBI_NI