Business Leader Rejects Osborne Fears

Jeanette Forbes

One of Scotland’s leading entrepreneurs has dismissed George Osborne’s claims over the impact independence will have on the Scottish economy saying business is more concerned with current taxation and employment.
Asked by BBC’s Scotland at Ten, Jeanette Forbes Managing director of Aberdeen based engineering and offshore services firm PCL Group said “I certainly don’t think independence will put people off investing in Scotland”.

In the interview Ms Forbes said business is focussed on employment now, getting
the banks open for business and that the oil and gas industry is focussed on taxation issues.

Her comments support those of Jim McColl who yesterday rejected George Osborne’s
claims saying he was in discussion with a number of businesses who wanted to invest in Scotland and the Director General of the Institute of Directors who recently said business was “relaxed” about the prospect of independence.

Welcoming Ms Forbes comments, SNP Economic Development Spokesperson on Falkirk Council, Councillor Martin Oliver said:

“Jeanette Forbes knows her industry and she knows that it is not independence that is worrying the industry but the UK Government’s treatment of the North Sea as nothing more than a cash cow.

Instead of Tory scaremongering we have businesses in Scotland who are working hard to attract investment, create jobs and boost the economy.  They should not be talked down by a Tory government.

In recent months we have seen international companies putting Scotland first in their investment plans, backing our skills, our technology and the opportunities Scotland presents in industries like renewables and oil and gas.

The opening of the Amazon facilities in both Fife and Edinburgh today is just the start of that investment delivering jobs for people across Scotland.”


1. Ms Forbes comments in full on BBC Radio Scotland – Scotland at Ten (14th November)

Do you believe George Osborne when he says big companies he’s spoken to are concerned
about this referendum?

JF: “No I don’t think they are. I think at the moment most people are wondering if they are going to have employment in the New Year, I think we are concentrating on oil and gas in the North East in regards to the taxing, and the banks need to be obviously open to business that they keep saying that they are but they actually do need to become open to business.

We need to start looking around here and ask how we are going to employee these people because there are more and more companies going to the wall and I really think we should be open to the economy at the moment and getting ourselves out of this mess as opposed to focusing on anything else.

[BBC] Do you agree that independence could be bad for business in Scotland and could put companies off investing?

[JF] I’m not 100% sure if that would be the case quite frankly. I think people out with the UK, that if they want to invest in the UK then they will do that. I think that they will do quite rightly some form of risk assessment. But I certainly don’t think independence will put people off investing in Scotland.

[BBC]How does the referendum need to be handled to ensure business confidence in Scotland?

[JF]That’s up to Alex Salmond and I don’t think there has been a decision on that…The important thing is that we focus on this economy and we get this country back on its feet again. When was the last time you heard people actually speak about it. Obviously they are talking about it but people here don’t discuss it every day. People at this moment in time are thinking about how they are going to pay for Christmas and their energy bills and will they have a job in the New Year. And these are the things I think we really should be
focussing on and really driving this country forward.

2. Statement from Jim McColl (14th November – Press Association) “I’m disappointed to hear George Osborne talking down Scotland as a place to do business and invest in. Mr Osborne has stated that major companies are saying they are worried about investing in Scotland. But that’s not what we’re finding at all. Indeed we are in discussion with a couple of big companies who want to invest here and expect to make announcements soon. What many of us in business are convinced about is that a productive and prosperous future for this country depends on securing real economic powers for the parliament through
constitutional change. I know lots of business people who understand and agree with that but haven’t met any who are concerned about the process of getting there by referendum.  Indeed amid a range of talks with wealth creators about significant ventures in engineering and energy, no one has even mentioned the referendum. Obviously, the Chancellor must speak to a different category of people than I do.”

3. Comments from Institute of Directors

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