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Summary

  1. The economy committee received an overview briefing from Invest NI.
  2. Tourism NI officials also briefed the committee on the industry's prospects.
  3. Officials from the Special European Union Programmes Board (SEUPB) briefed the Finance Committee.
  4. Departmental officials briefed the committee on the work of the Central Procurement Directorate (CPD).

Live Reporting

By Robin Sheeran and Brooke Allen

All times stated are UK

  1. Good evening

    Mrs Pengelly adjourns the committee.

    Join us tomorrow morning at 10:00 BST for live coverage of the Agriculture Committee.

  2. Norway and Switzerland

    John O'Dowd

    John O'Dowd of Sinn Féin says the SEUPB was set up under the Good Friday Agreement, and this is an agreement between the United Kingdom and Ireland. 

    Ms McIntyre says "there are options going forward" and that "there are programmes around Europe, with Norway and Switzerland, INTERREG programmes that operate on the basis of one member is in and one member is not".

  3. The Commission and the Treasury

    Sterling and euros

    Mr Duffy considers options for the future.

    "Part of the negotiation would be an expectation that any commitments would be honoured," he says.

    "If it were not to be honoured by the Commission then one would expect that if the money were then to be released back into the Treasury the case could be made to Treasury that these particular aspects would be funded."

  4. Article 50

    Emma Pengelly says SEUPB is still inviting calls for projects running more than two years past the triggering of Article 50.

    "Is that not going to have real practical difficulties?" she asks.

    Ms McIntyre says SEUPB will work "to ensure that these programmes are delivered to their absolute maximum for the people of Northern Ireland". 

  5. NI deputy leader says Brexit 'not a done deal'

    Martin McGuinness

    Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness says Northern Ireland's exit from the European Union is "not a done deal". 

    He said it was quite clear that the will of the people in NI is to remain and he rejected Theresa Villiers' assertion that there can be no special status for Northern Ireland within the EU. 

  6. Teacher replacement scheme gets go-ahead

    classroom

    A controversial scheme allowing teachers over 55 to retire early and be replaced by those recently qualified will start in September.

    It was due to begin in the spring but was delayed because of concerns about who would qualify for the vacated posts. Up to 120 teachers are expected to retire early under the scheme.

  7. Programme budgets

    Gina McIntyre

    Gina McIntyre of SEUPB says there is a budget of 269m euros for PEACE IV.

    She says it covers four areas - shared education, children and young people shared spaces and services, and building positive relations.

    Regarding INTERREG V, she says 283m euros was allocated "to support greater cohesion in the border area".

  8. Special European Union Programmes Board

    Committee briefing

    The officials arrive for the Special European Union Programmes Board (SEUPB) briefing.

    Frank Duffy of the Department of Finance says ministers have told officials that it is "business as usual for the implementation" of the PEACE IV and INTERREG V programmes. 

  9. 'Too many layers of bureaucracy'

    funds

    Sinn Féin's John O'Dowd takes issue with the procedures required of projects applying for funding.

    "We have too many layers of bureaucracy, and accountability, and audit, and review on the spending of public funds," the former Education minister says.

    'I found it frustrating trying to spend public money," he says. 

  10. EU funding of capital works

    Philip Smith

    Ulster Unionist Philip Smith asks about the future of major public works that are receiving "a dollop of European Union funding".

    Mr Armstrong says "the issue around the mix of funding of projects will be important" but he is not an expert on the matter.

    He says there could be "issues around exchange rates, but "at the minute it's early days".

  11. Corporation tax cost 'won't be waived'

    Teresa Villiers

    The Treasury won't cut the cost of Northern Ireland reducing its rate of corporation tax, Theresa Villiers says.

    First Minister Arlene Foster said yesterday that the UK's withdrawal from the EU could positively change the consequences of cutting the tax, but the Northern Ireland secretary says the Treasury will not waive the cost.

  12. Brexit and EU procurement directives

    Des Armstrong and Gareth Johnston

    Des Armstrong and Gareth Johnston of the Department of Finance arrive to brief the committee on the work of the Central Procurement Directorate.

    Emma Pengelly asks about the possible effects of Brexit and the removal of EU procurement directives.

    Mr Armstrong says public procurement is "heavily regulated by the European Union" and it is "seen as one of the key drivers to help establish a single market". 

  13. 'Hysteria'

    Members discuss the outworkings of the European referendum on the committee's future work.

    Chairperson Emma Pengelly points to what she sees as some emerging opportunities, such as the removal of constraints on state aid.

    She says "there has been some panic" and "some hysteria".

    Flags

    Ulster Unionist Philip Smith is concerned about the effect on the forthcoming long-term budget.

    He points to the Secretary of State Theresa Villier's comments that the government would not reduce the cost to the NI Executive of the devolution of corporation tax.

  14. Finance Committee

    Emma Pengelly

    The DUP's Emma Pengelly is in the chair for this afternoon's meeting of the Finance Committee.

    The first part of the meeting was held in private session.

    We now join the members for a briefing from the Central Procurement Directorate.

  15. Join us after lunch

    Deputy chairperson Steve Aiken adjourns the meeting.

    It is the committee's final meeting until after the summer recess.

    Join us after lunch for live coverage of the Finance Committee from 15:15 BST, including a briefing from the Special European Union Programmes Board (SEUPB).

  16. Cruise ship tourists do not 'stop, stay and spend'

    Cruise ship in Belfast

    Alan Chambers asks about the economic benefits of cruise ships docking in Northern Ireland. 

    Mr McGrillen says "75,000 people are expected to arrive in Northern Ireland" from cruise ships this year, however, he says that "one third of these people will not get off the boats because they get everything for free when they are on it". 

    Ms Laura McCorry says Tourism NI are trying to encourage people to "stop, stay and spend and this is the antithesis of a cruise ship model". 

  17. Reduced VAT rate would be 'very helpful'

    Ulster Unionist Steve Aiken talks about "improving competitiveness" in Northern Ireland and welcomes Mr McGrillen's suggestion of a reduced VAT rate to 9%, like in the Republic of Ireland. 

    In May 2011, the Irish Government announced a reduction in the VAT rate on tourism-related activity from 13.5% to 9%  

    Mr McGrillen says "if we had parity with the Republic of Ireland, that would be very helpful". 

  18. Tourism NI and other departments

    The Tall Ships visit Belfast in 2015
    Image caption: The Tall Ships visit Belfast in 2015

    Conor Murphy talks about events-based tourism, and asks if Tourism NI are also working with the Department for Infrastructure and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs. 

    Mr McGrillen provides examples of how Tourism NI works with all departments, for example, he says he will be meeting the Chief Executive of Translink this week to see how Tourism NI can contribute to their strategies. 

  19. 'Steal bread from somebody else's table'

    John McGrillen

    Mr McGrillen says tourism is seen as a "key sector within the Northern Ireland economy". 

    However, he says that Northern Ireland is "still lagging behind our competition set" and are "delivering about 50% of the potential we have". 

    He outlines aims for growth in the tourism sector of 6% per annum. 

    "We need to steal bread from somebody else's table," he says. 

  20. Tourism NI briefing

    Tourism NI officials at the committee

    The Chief Executive Mr John McGrillen, and Ms Laura McCorry, from Tourism NI arrive at the committee to brief members.