OBR track record

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Jim Sillars (Letters, 15 June) is quite right. The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) does not have a perfect track record in predicting oil revenues.

This independent body, which estimates revenues with data provided by operators themselves, was out by around 20 per cent on receipts at successive budgets before the recent fall in oil prices.

However, from reading Mr Sillars’ letter it may be surprising to learn that the OBR was consistently too optimistic.

As the organisation itself noted, in a letter to the chair of the Finance Committee: “The OBR’s four Budget forecasts have tended to be too optimistic.”

The only sure bet for the next 25 years is that the economic predictions of oil revenues from supporters of independence won’t get any more sensible.

Nigel Anthony

Dalgety Street

Edinburgh

Jim Sillars has some insightful observations on the difficulties of forecasting the price of oil for the next 25 years.

Interestingly, I don’t recall Mr Sillars making the same pronouncements when Alex Salmond predicated his case for independence – in part – on an oil price of a “modest” $117 a barrel. And we would have been stuck with the consequences of independence for a bit longer than 25 years.

The moral seems to be this: if economic projections are favourable to the case for independence then let’s not question their potential unreliability. If they are not favourable, then giving credence to such forecasts “hits a new level of absurdity” – stupidity on stilts perhaps?

Colin Hamilton

Braid Hills Avenue

Edinburgh