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Scottish independence: Westminster ‘squanders’ oil

Alex Salmond is 'fooling' Scots with his oil fund plans but Nationalists say Westminster have squandered the oil wealth. Picture: Hemedia

Alex Salmond is 'fooling' Scots with his oil fund plans but Nationalists say Westminster have squandered the oil wealth. Picture: Hemedia

  • by SCOTT MACNAB
 

ALEX Salmond’s plans to create an oil fund after independence is “fooling the people of Scotland”, a senior UK Government minister has today claimed.

But Nationalists insist that Westminster has “squandered” Scotland’s oil wealth for the past 40 years and will do the same for the next 40 - without independence.

The SNP Government wants to create a Norwegian-style fund which would receive a slice of the country’s oil and gas wealth to create lucrative security for future generations.

The Norwegian fund is already worth about £470 billion and although it’s unlikely Scotland could emulate this as North Sea reserves fall into decline, Mr Salmond insisted it would still provide a tidy nest egg when the Scottish and UK cabinets met in Aberdeenshire yesterday.

But Scotland will face debts of about 140 billion after independence and its public finances are likely to be in the red - raising questions over the viability of a savings fund.

Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael said today: “It takes only basic mathematics to understand that you cannot spend and save the same money at the same time. The Scottish Government’s plan for an oil fund is another triumph of flat-earth economics over reality.

He added: “The facts are clear. If an independent Scotland wants an oil fund, the First Minister has to tell us whether he will cut public services by 8 per cent or hike up income and other taxes by 11 per cent. There is no way around this issue and pretending otherwise is an attempt to fool the people of Scotland.

But Nationalist MSP Maureen Watt, who used to work in the oil industry, said Norway provides an example of how Scotland’s oil and gas wealth “could and should have been used.”

She added: “Oil was discovered in the waters of both countries around about the same time, but while Norway now has an oil fund worth £470 billion, Scotland has been left with nothing as a result of successive years of Westminster squander and mismanagement.”

Ms Watt went on: “Westminster has downplayed the value of oil and squandered the revenues for more than 40 years. We cannot allow them to waste the next 40.

“The UK Government does not deserve another chance - only a Yes vote in September can allow us to establish an oil fund and reap the rewards we have so long missed out on.”

 

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