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YOUR insightful commentary on Audit Scotland’s first assessment of our public assets and liabilities (your reports, 4 July) emphasised the highly restricted approach taken.

From what was presented, it is not clear how the assets of £86 billion really relate to liabilities of £94 billion: simplistically to say that there is a deficit of £8bn surely inappropriately marries fixed property, etc, values to varying and increasing pensions, etc.

Unless the assets generate revenues to cover the liabilities (which were undefined as either per annum or the funding needed to provide the annual income needed to cover the outgoings), the approach needs clarification.

Professor John McLaren points out that our shares of UK debt and overseas assets need inclusion in any realistic assessments.

In any event, only taxation in the first instance can finance the likes of regular pension payouts, on top of whatever earnings comes from invested funds. Perhaps there is an intention to view pensioners as wasting assets, so close reading of the assessment itself is essential, for pensioners especially.

Joe Darby


Dingwall, Ross-shire