Rating Policy

Part of Ministerial Statements – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 11:30 am on 22nd November 2016.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Máirtín Ó Muilleoir Máirtín Ó Muilleoir Sinn Féin 11:30 am, 22nd November 2016

I hope that people will nail their colours to the mast, and I look forward to the day when the SDLP is not rapping doors in South Belfast and saying to people, "Oppose Máirtín Ó Muilleoir because he will remove the rates cap". I think that it is fair, and I say that to the Chairwoman of the Committee as well.

I look forward to the opportunity to go to my beloved Finance Committee to discuss business rates. I offered that the last time, but you will remember that my offer was spurned and we spent three hours talking about other matters. The offer stands, however, and I look forward to discussing these matters with the Finance Committee.

Again, we need to nail our colours to the mast. Do we agree with the evaluation carried out, which said that the existing scheme was too broad and diffuse and had not delivered any results? Do we then believe that it should be replaced with a targeted approach that is focused on small retail and hospitality that is linked to tourism? Let us be clear: these are the proposals of the Finance Minister, and they need the support of the Assembly. This is the ultimate authority on all the proposals that I lay out today. There will be a discussion, you can be sure, with the Finance Committee. There will be a discussion with the stakeholders — some of that has started already — and there will be a concerted effort by my team to win people over, and, where there are genuine concerns, we will want to address them.

There will be improvements. I have laid out the broad parameters here, but I have no doubt, from looking at some of the very wise and sage Members around here, there will be improvements on what I am proposing in the time ahead.