Strabane-based business owner John Friel has been elected chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) Northern Ireland Regional Committee at this weekend’s AGM in Cookstown.
Addressing FSB members at the AGM dinner at the Glenavon Hotel last night, John Friel outlined his priorities for his term of office and hit out at British government plans for water charges.
"The proposed water charges which Minister John Spellar is intending to impose upon us will be the Northern Ireland version of the poll tax and will be just as unpopular. The government seem to forget that business owners will be hit by a double tap tax, both at their home and at their place of work.
"Many small business owners who are already paying high insurance and rates will face real hardship as their take home pay barely reaches minimum wage levels on some occasions."
He added: "The FSB is now the largest business organisation in Northern Ireland, with nearly 4,500 members from every sector of industry and from every part of Northern Ireland. My hope is that when we meet at our 2005 AGM, we will pass the 5000 mark."