By Marcus Leach
The Northern Ireland Retail Consortium (NIRC) is urging the NI Executive to take forward amendments to the Small Business Rate Relief Scheme and proposed Large Retail Levy which have been drafted by an Assembly Committee.
The NIRC gave evidence to the Committee for Finance and Personnel, warning there was a danger rates relief would fail to reach the firms who needed it most while unfairly penalising just one part of a single sector.
"The committee's proposals to improve the planned rate relief scheme are extremely encouraging. We back measures to increase support to small businesses but funds must be properly targeted and collected fairly from all sectors which stand to benefit. Minister Wilson has also made constructive remarks on how he will develop his proposals," Northern Ireland Retail Consortium Director, Jane Bevis, said.
"Businesses and all levels of government in Northern Ireland should be working together to rebalance the economy, encourage investment and promote growth. This common sense refining of the planned Large Retail Levy would go a long way to helping those ambitions and we urge the Executive to take them forward in time for the commencement of the scheme."
The NIRC has also argued for the swift introduction of Business Improvement Districts, which enable private and public sector co-operation on local projects.
"Large retailers do have a part to play in creating vibrant town centres where businesses of all kinds can thrive. Bringing in further legislation to allow the creation of Business Improvement Districts would help stores make additional contributions to towns and cities all over Northern Ireland by making it possible for them to invest in specific local projects," Jane Bevis added.
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