Responding to today's announcement by the Minister for Finance Máirtín Ó Muilleoir on the business rates review, Northern Ireland Retail Consortium Director, Aodhán Connolly, said:

"It’s good to see the Minister has accepted the business rates system is in need of reform, and there are some positive steps in today’s announcement. In particular, the announcement of more frequent revaluations starting from 2019 will allow the system to flex with the economic times. The commitment to widen the tax base is also sensible – the current situation of retailers paying 22 percent of business rates whilst only being 12 percent of the economy clearly needs addressed.

“However, the Minister should have gone much further today. Three year revaluations would have allowed the rates system to more closely replicate the economic cycle and even this widening of the tax base will not address the inequity with the non-domestic business rates system.

"Retail employs 80,000 people in Northern Ireland, and buys over £1.6 billion of Northern Irish agricultural products. It’s a crucial element of Northern Ireland’s economy. However, it’s an industry facing huge challenges, one of which is a disproportionately high tax bill resulting from unreformed business rates. So whilst these measures are a good first step, much more fundamental reform is needed for Northern Ireland to be seen as a competitive place to do business in the 21st century.”