Page last updated at 11:48 GMT, Wednesday, 3 October 2012 12:48 UK

Finance Committee

The Finance Minister said he was not convinced it was worth spending £60m on devolving air passenger duty (APD) on domestic flights, on 3 October 2012.

Sammy Wilson explained to the Finance Committee that APD on long-haul flights had been devolved to the Stormont Executive due to "the very real threat that we were going to lose the Newark flight", Northern Ireland's only scheduled service to North America.

Mr Wilson said flights from Dublin were going to be much more competitive than flights from Belfast.

He said Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster was in talks with a Canadian airline about starting a service to Northern Ireland.

The minister said the Executive had made representations to the Treasury regarding the possible devolution of domestic APD for flights within the UK.

He said other regions had road and rail links to the main airport hubs, but Northern Ireland travellers had to take additional flights.

"We believe it is an unfair tax," Mr Wilson added.

However, the minister was unsure that the £60m cost of cutting domestic APD would be the most efficient way of boosting the local economy.

"I am not convinced at this early stage that this is the best way of spending this money," he said.

Turning to the proposed devolution of corporation tax powers, Mr Wilson said he did not accept the estimated costs coming from the Treasury.

The minister said the figures being quoted were £350m to £400m, rising to £700m by 2030.

"I don't believe those figures are either fair, reasonable or affordable," Mr Wilson commented.

He said he believed it was possible to come up with an agreement but it depended on a degreee of flexibility being shown by the Treasury and the Secretary of State.

Finance committee membership

  • David Hilditch

  • William Humphrey

  • Roy Beggs

  • Mitchel McLaughlin

  • Adrian McQuillan


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