Fiscal Commission report useful contribution but will gather dust unless institutions restored, says Muir

Andrew Muir Finance

Alliance Finance spokesperson Andrew Muir MLA has said a report into the Executive’s responsibility for tax and spending is a useful contribution on how to better fund support for those hit by the cost of living crisis, but warned it would “gather dust” unless the institutions are restored.

He was speaking after the Fiscal Commission launched its report, which concluded income tax powers could be devolved to the Executive by 2027 if there is political agreement to do so. Mr Muir said the report showed why reform is needed in how Government functions here.

“This report is a positive and constructive contribution to the active debate on fiscal powers available to give the Executive better and bigger scope to help people, communities and businesses across Northern Ireland,” said the North Down MLA.

“Many complex and important issues need to be carefully considered, including how to ensure progressive taxation to safeguard the less well off, ways to protect current revenues, plus the capacity and capability of Civil Service. But this should not overshadow the opportunities from, for example, stamp duty land tax to better incentivise sustainable, green development and urban regeneration. 

“The report rightly highlights the impact of super parity measures such as domestic water charging and occasions the Executive has sought additional resources, so more fiscal independence will be required if additional powers are granted.  

“If additional fiscal devolution is to be granted, how we govern Northern Ireland and manage taxpayers’ money must change. The reality is no Executive or Assembly is in place to take forward the report recommendations due to a system which incentivises deadlock, delay and waste. That shines a strong light on the need for the reforms long advocated for by Alliance.

“An essential first start in spending public funds better must be a real plan to tackle the cost of division, which has been costed at up to £800 million a year.”