Chartered Accountants Chairman Says Economic Recovery is Taking Hold
The Chairman of Chartered Accountants Ulster Society says that economic recovery is beginning to take hold in Northern Ireland and confidence within the local business community is returning.
Speaking to over 300 guests at the Ulster Society’s Annual Dinner, sponsored by Tughans and Danske Bank, tonight (13th March), Darren McDowell said: “As an economy, we’re coming through the worst recession in living memory. There is still some way to go but all the data points to a revival with real growth, rising employment, falling unemployment and better business prospects.
“There are many positive signs. Our business expenditure in R&D is the highest since 2010 and has risen 120% in real terms since 2007. As a percentage of Gross Value Added, R&D spend is now higher here than the UK as a whole.
“The Jobs Fund has led to the creation of almost 4,200 jobs, exceeding the 4,000 target while the number of jobs promoted is over target by 1,300 jobs. Invest Northern Ireland has had an impressive year on jobs, R&D targets and export growth in the last three quarters.
“I understand that there are a number of very significant investment announcements by new and existing companies to come, which will involve many hundreds of new jobs. These are signs that we are driving recovery and building a more robust, innovative and export-driven economy.”
Mr McDowell warned that recovery will take time and a collaborative effort: “We can’t pretend that the job of re-building the economy will be easy or achieved in short timeframe. It will take time for the recovery to be felt in individual households.
“There will be knocks along the way. The important thing will be our ability to recover from those knocks and continue to compete for international mobile investment and encourage our small and medium businesses – the backbone of the Northern Ireland economy – to search new opportunities both on this island and further afield.
“There is a need for banks, alternative funders, business advisers and the business community to work together to address the funding challenge to ensure that businesses have the capability to grow and to ensure that we nurture a sustained recovery. If we can work together, we can make 2014 the year of economic recovery.”
Guest speaker at the event, Finance Minister Mr Simon Hamilton said: “I am exceptionally keen to work with the private sector and third sector as well as staff within the broad public sector. We have begun to transform our economy, focusing on innovation and exports; utilising investments in infrastructure and telecoms; improving the skills of our people and this strategy is beginning to pay off. In partnering with the private sector I know that chartered accountants wherever they are working – in government, in practice or in industry – will have a role to play.”
The Chartered Accountants Ulster Society’s Annual Dinner took place at the Ramada Plaza Hotel in Belfast and was attended by 300 members and their business guests
Pictured above at the Annual Dinner are (from left) John-George Willis of event sponsors Tughans; Darren McDowell, Ulster Society Chairman; Finance Minister Simon Hamilton; and Niall Harkin of event sponsors Danske Bank)