MUCH has been written and broadcast in recent weeks about the monetary system Scotland might or might not be allowed to adopt should the electorate plump for independence in 2014.
Only last month, Chancellor George Osborne came north to warn us he probably would not allow Scotland to use the pound sterling. A case of: “It’s my ball and I’m taking it home with me… so there!” Does that mean an independent Scotland would avoid its share of the UK national debt if this country goes it alone? Not sure.
The euro hardly offers us a solution given its “busted flush” status, while the introduction of a brand new Scottish currency would be costly and potentially unstable in its formative years.
A vote for independence would be a seismically radical development for the nation, so surely an equally radical solution is needed on the currency front.
The “outside-the-box-thinking” move would be for Scotland to adopt the US dollar thereby becoming part of the “dollarisation” group of nations, which include Panama, Ecuador and El Salvador. The list of dollar users also features two British sovereign territories, British Indian Ocean Territory and British Virgin Islands.
While the UK economy continues to flat-line at best and has even threatened to tumble into a triple-dip recession at worst, Panama, Ecuador and El Salvador’s GDP grows far faster than ours.
Panama’s economy grew by a wonderfully impressive 10.7 per cent in 2012, with an uplift of 8.5 per cent predicted for 2013. Ecuador enjoyed growth of 7.8 per cent in 2011, and 4 per cent in 2012, while even El Salvador’s gross domestic product is expanding by around 1.5 per cent a year. The dollar currency must surely be a factor.
If Scotland grasped the nettle and signed up with Uncle Sam just think of the economic benefits such a partnership would bring.
The Scotch whisky industry and the traditional textile trades would see a vast expansion in sales to the United States of America, many more tourists would flock to Scotland from across the pond, and American companies would be much more likely to invest here. A few US army, air force and naval bases would boost local economies no end.
And should Scotland fall on hard times then it would be in a position to access the vast USAID budget, currently running at $20.4 billion (£13.2bn) a year and funding 283 projects worldwide.
So come on then finance secretary John Swinney… wake up and smell the coffee!