PBP MLA Gerry Carroll—a long-time critic of efforts to reduce tax on corporations—has questioned the logic behind the latest Sinn Féin u-turn on the issue. He said:
“Sinn Féin spent a decade or more trumpeting corporation tax cuts as a catch-all panacea to our economic woes. Now, they are backtracking under pressure from People Before Profit.
“Conor Murphy’s reasoning for this u-turn, however, does not add up. He claims he would only consider a corporation tax cut if we could afford it. This begs the question: under what circumstances does he think we could afford to lose hundreds of millions from our block grant?
“If the economy was growing, a reduction in corporation tax would mean a big cut to public services. If the economy was declining, the same would be true. It was never justifiable. The minister should come clean on what he means.
“Nor does his claim add up that the recent reduction in corporation tax in Britain changes things. As PBP have been telling Sinn Féin for years, attempts at Stormont to reduce corporation tax would have always encouraged a reduction elsewhere. What else did they expect but a race to the bottom?
“Murphy’s sleight of hand on this issue conveniently ignores Sinn Féin’s original justification for reducing corporation tax: that it would harmonise the rate across the 32 counties. Might we logically conclude, therefore, that Sinn Féin have now abandoned this argument? And that talk of harmonisation was always a nationalist ruse for Thatcherite politics?
“The reality is that pressure from People Before Profit and trade unions has forced this Sinn Féin u-turn. We will continue to put pressure on all the parties to now rule out a reduction in corporation tax as well.”