Angela McGowan delivered a speech outlining the impact that the absence of a Northern Ireland Executive has had on business, and the lost opportunities for growth stacking up month on month - calling on the resumption of the Executive alongside the civic society. McGowan acknowledged the shared aims of business and elected officials - but called for focus, and a close partnership between business and government to deliver those aims.
Angela McGowan said:
“The impact that any political vacuum has on the business community should never be underestimated. Having a devolved government up and running again before the end of June is critical for local firms - for economic policy and for job creation. Each day without a devolved government is a lost opportunity to make progress on the key economic issues that shape the Northern Ireland business landscape. A political vacuum comes with a very high economic price tag - it hinders business, it puts investment at risk, it deters FDI and it dramatically reduces our ability to deliver those job creation promises in the Programme for Government.
“Europe’s leaders will shortly be meeting to agree a common response to the Article 50 letter. Brexit is gathering pace, underlining the pressing need for a strong and cohesive political voice championing our interests in London, Dublin, and in Brussels, and ensuring Northern Ireland’s special circumstances are heard and understood.
“Closer to home, business wants to see immediate progress on delivering a lower corporation tax rate, the construction of the second North/South Interconnector, a step change of investment in transport infrastructure and a renewed focus on education reform to ensure no young person is left behind in an increasingly digitalised economy.
“The panel tonight demonstrates that business and elected officials have a common ambition of a globally competitive economy that works for everyone. That’s the easy part. What we need now is a clear joint focus on delivery through a new era of collaboration between government and business of all sizes and sectors.”