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Scottish independence: what would happen to Scotland’s share of the national debt?

The SNP say North Sea oil would reduce Scotland's share of the national debt. Picture: complimentary

The SNP say North Sea oil would reduce Scotland's share of the national debt. Picture: complimentary

  • by EDDIE BARNES
 

THE Office of Budget Responsibility has estimated that the UK’s net debt will balloon to £1.637 trillion by 2017, the year after Alex Salmond aims for independence to take place.

Most observers have so far worked on the assumption that, in negotiations after a “yes” vote, Scotland would take on a per capita share of that debt. At 2017 prices, that would - according to Professor David Bell of Stirling University - come to £137.5bn.

That is a “large” debt burden for a new, small country to inherit, he notes. The SNP Government has already staked out a negotiating position with the aim of reducing it. Scotland’s share would be just £56bn, it says, if thirty years of North Sea Oil money are thrown into the equation. Meanwhile, Alex Salmond has also suggested that if the UK refused to let Scotland share the “asset” of its currency, then there is no reason why Scotland should have to taken on the “liability” of its debt.

However, Lord O’Donnell, the former head of the UK Civil Service, has warned that if Scotland declined to take on its share of UK debt, it would damage its financial credibility, handing it a lower credit rating and pushing up borrowing costs as a result.

The most likely scenario therefore is that Scotland would take on its per capita share, as part of negotiations after a yes vote.

SEE ALSO:

Scottish independence: Pound at heart of debate

 

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