Searching for truth about Scotland’s economy
YOUR front-page story about the revenue raised from Scotland’s oil was exceptionally illuminating, in particular the comparison of how the taxes levied on Scotland’s and Norway’s oil have been managed through the downturn (Westminster and the big lie about Scotland’s oil, News, August 20).
One aspect of the story stuck in the mind more than any other – the observation that UK policy appeared to be a deliberate strategy of reducing the tax take from oil to almost nothing.
It reminded me of a petulant young child who, when told to share a toy with another, deliberately breaks the toy, reasoning that: “If I can’t have it, then nobody else will either.”
It raises the question – will a similar strategy be taken by the Westminster Government over single market access and the customs union during the Brexit negotiations? David Patrick Edinburgh THE latest Gers publication states that Scotland’s fiscal deficit was £13.5 billion (2016-17), which explains why Business for Scotland (BfS) decided to conduct a pre-emptive attack on Westminster in the forlorn hope its headline-grabbing report about Scotland’s past oil wealth would soften the blow for its independence dream.
The main thrust of the BfS argument was to blame Westminster for wasting North Sea assets and suggest Scotland could have been in a much stronger fiscal position today if only things had been different, rather than acknowledge that Greek-style austerity would have resulted if we had decided to leave the Union. The importance of the oil revenues highlighted in the article makes a mockery of claims by Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon (during the 2014 referendum) that oil revenues were “merely a bonus” or that we were on the “cusp of a second oil boom”.
The £330bn figure “over five decades” used by BfS does not take into account the financial benefit of the Union dividend during the same time period, which more than compensated the oil tax revenues mentioned in the article and would have ceased with independence; nor do its figures address the £50bn decommissioning costs.
Its gripe about the oil fund is irrelevant within the UK context: as part of the Union it was not necessary due to the size of the £2 trillion UK economy. If there was to have been an oil fund it should have been modelled on Shetland’s shrewd oil deal and targeted to assist Aberdeen and the northeast to transition away from oil to other viable industries.
BfS’s strategy of digging up the past suggests its is bereft of ideas for the future. Unless it can address the basic questions on currency, the fiscal deficit and whether it wants to rejoin as full members of the EU, support for independence will continue to haemorrhage. Ian Lakin Aberdeen