SNP faces calls for watchdog over oil forecasts

Kezia Dugdale called for a new financial watchdog after the Scottish Government's oil forecasts were out by 6,000 per cent. Picture: Hemedia

Kezia Dugdale called for a new financial watchdog after the Scottish Government's oil forecasts were out by 6,000 per cent. Picture: Hemedia

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The SNP government is facing calls to set up a Scottish financial watchdog with “real teeth” in the aftermath of criticism over its oil forecasting.

The white paper for independence, published by the First Minister and her predecessor Alex Salmond two years ago, estimated Scotland would get £7.5 billion from the North Sea if it left the UK.

But the UK Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) warned on Wednesday that cash raised from oil and gas revenues could fall to just £130 million this year.

With Holyrood to get powers over income tax from next April, Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale insisted the country “can’t ever again be in a position where our government’s numbers are so wrong on such a grand scale”.

She called for the creation of a Scottish Office for Budget Responsibility, stating: “What we need is a real financial watchdog with teeth, not the pup that John Swinney is proposing.”

Ms Dugdale said: “It would be bad enough if the government responsible for collecting an increasingly large share of our taxes had been out by 10 per cent or 20 per cent. But the First Minister was out by 6,000 per cent on the money needed to fund our schools, our hospitals and our pensions. The government’s ability to get these things right really matters to our future because this parliament will be responsible for more tax and spending than ever before. We will have a chance to make different choices and take a break from Tory austerity.”

The Labour leader continued: “We are on the cusp of major change, with new powers heading our way, Scottish politics will never be the same again.

“This parliament needs impartial, independent oversight of government finances. Scots can’t be let down like this ever again.”

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