Anger as VAT and APD ig­nored

Belfast Telegraph - Business Telegraph - - News - BY RYAN MCALEER

CHAN­CEL­LOR Philip Ham­mond has been ac­cused of ig­nor­ing the op­por­tu­nity to boost North­ern Ire­land’s econ­omy by ig­nor­ing tourism VAT and air pas­sen­ger duty (APD).

Colin Neill of Hos­pi­tal­ity Ul­ster said while the drinks in­dus­try was relieved at the duty freeze on beer, cider and spir­its, he said that the Bud­get had missed an op­por­tu­nity.

“The po­ten­tial for this Bud­get to de­liver for the North­ern Ire­land econ­omy and the hos­pi­tal­ity sec­tor was great, but in­stead it has left so many is­sues hang­ing and many ques­tions unan­swered,” he said.

Claim­ing that North­ern Ire­land had been pushed “far down the peck­ing or­der” by the Trea­sury, he con­tin­ued: “We are dis­mayed that the Chan­cel­lor has failed to ad­dress the is­sue of tourism VAT, stat­ing that the ex­is­tence of mul­ti­ple VAT rates in the same ter­ri­tory would lead to ad­di­tional ad­min­is­tra­tive bur­dens for tax­pay­ers and busi­nesses.”

La­belling the UK’S 20% tourism VAT rate as one of the high­est in Europe, he said North­ern Ire­land hos­pi­tal­ity and tourism busi­nesses re­main par­tic­u­larly vul­ner­a­ble, faced by the 13.5% rate in the Re­pub­lic.

“The dis­ad­van­tage con­tin­ues to be acutely felt right across North­ern Ire­land, with the NI VAT rate act­ing as a brake on the growth of the hos­pi­tal­ity and tourism sec­tor.

“How can the sec­tor in NI be ex­pected to com­pete when the UK govern­ment con­tin­ues to tie the hands of the sec­tor be­hind its back on this is­sue as the Re­pub­lic pushes on, even at a new higher rate of 13.5% in the new year.”

Mean­while, the hos­pi­tal­ity chief said there was frus­tra­tion at the lack of move­ment on APD.

“We are dis­ap­pointed that there has been no move­ment by the Chan­cel­lor to­day, but it is a re­sult that a tech­ni­cal work­ing group is to be es­tab­lished to ex­am­ine the is­sue in de­tail.

“We are hope­ful that the group can come to a de­fin­i­tive and pos­i­tive con­clu­sion as soon as pos­si­ble.

“We live on an is­land, and in terms of busi­ness travel and tourists we need to max­imise the op­por­tu­nity that we have by low­er­ing or erad­i­cat­ing bar­ri­ers when it comes to get­ting on and off our is­land.

“Our air­ports have to com­pete in­ter­na­tion­ally, and with the likes of Dublin air­port only 100 miles down the road we have to pull ev­ery eco­nomic lever avail­able to us when it comes to air travel.

“No change means that we con­tinue to face the dif­fi­cul­ties this tax presents.”

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