Scotland can more than afford to be a successful independent country, as a paper published today outlines the nation’s key economic strengths.
The document, launched at Alexander Dennis in Falkirk by the First Minister and Deputy First Minister, offers a consolidated picture of the country’s strong financial foundations, diverse economy, ingenuity and natural resources – all of which will help ensure a prosperous nation with independence.
But it shows that rising inequality under Westminster and consistent economic mismanagement by successive UK governments is costing jobs and depressing growth.
Scotland’s Economy: the case for independence focuses on the country’s potential for growth as an independent nation, where the Scottish Government would have key economic decision-making powers.
The report highlights Scotland’s core economic strengths in the areas of :
* Our financial strength – with Scotland having generated more tax per head than the UK for every one of the last 30 years
* Our world-class food and drink industry which is seeing rising exports and the most recent annual turnover of £12.4 billion
* Our thriving creative industries which are recognised throughout the world and have an annual turnover of £4.8 billion
* Our global reputation in life sciences and an annual turnover of £2.9 billion
* Our oil and gas industry, which is seeing record investment and which, in 2011, contributed £26bn to Scotland’s GDP and boosted the UK balance of payments by £40bn.
* Our green energy reserves, with an estimated 25 per cent of Europe’s tidal and offshore wind resources.
* Our tourism industry which employs almost 200,000 people
* Our manufacturing sector, which exported £14.7bn in 2011
The paper concludes that Scotland has more than enough resources to become a wealthier and fairer country with the powers of independence.
Launching the paper, First Minister Alex Salmond said:
“This document sets out the enormous attributes and key strengths of the Scottish economy across a diverse range of sectors. We have a vast array of human, financial and natural resources, which many other countries do not enjoy.
“Scotland has a strong onshore economy and vast offshore potential, as well as a highly educated workforce and world class technology and research.
“But despite all of these inherent economic strengths, Scotland’s long-term economic growth has lagged behind that of comparable European nations, many of which do not have the natural advantages we do.
“The explanation for that rests in the fact that Scotland’s economic strength is not yet in Scotland’s hands.
“Despite our strong economic foundations and excellent global reputation Scotland, with Westminster in control of our economy , is not reaching our potential as a nation and this report clearly lays out the ways in which UK Government economic policies have not worked in Scotland’s best interests.
“We need the powers to boost our competitive position, support greater innovation and investment, become more internationally-focused instead of threatening to leave the EU and to become a wealthier, fairer country.
“Too many of the economic policies pursued by the Westminster Government are not best suited to Scotland’s priorities, and have held back our progress – and this report cites a number of tangible examples of UK Government policies which are damaging Scotland’s economy:
• The decision of the last two Westminster governments to cut capital spending which would have supported an additional 19,000 jobs in Scotland
• The UK Government’s failure to establish an oil fund for future generations, similar to the Norwegian fund now worth an estimated £450 billion
• The decision by the UK Government to engage in a boom in credit and debt expansion, damaging the economy
• Allowing income inequality to grow dramatically in the UK, to the point where the UK is now the 4th most unequal society in the developed world
• The decision to concentrate economic activity in London
• The decision to pursue austerity rather than focus on growing the economy.”
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:
“We have so much going for us as a country and as an economy: the resources, the talent, areas of real advantage and firm financial foundations. Our national balance sheet shows that for every one of the last 30 years Scotland has generated more tax revenue per head of population than the UK as a whole.
“That’s why even the leading opponents of Scottish independence say that of course Scotland could be a successful independent country.
“But we currently lack the full range of economic powers to help create jobs, grow the economy and realise all of that potential. Instead Scotland’s economic policy is largely determined by Westminster – often by governments we didn’t even vote for.
“The UK Government’s concentration on London and the South-East of England, which the Prime Minister himself has called ‘unstable and wasteful’, has also worked against Scotland’s best interests.
“Westminster’s economic policies have seen the UK become the fourth most unequal country in the developed world. This document sets out policies to boost wealth while also reversing that trend of inequality, including our intentions to examine childcare costs to improve the opportunities for women to enter the workforce.
“It sets out the full range of powers and options that any future independent Scottish Government, of whatever party or parties, would have available to them. Scotland has got what it takes to be a successful independent country. But we need the tools to build that better, more prosperous and fairer country we all want to see.”