Little wonder the tax take from North Sea revenues has dropped drastically by more than 40 per cent. These figures and trends will be worrying for the North-east.
However, of urgent concern for all political leaders should be our increasing dependence on imported energy. Recently, Centrica boss Sam Laidlaw pointed out the Ukraine crisis was a warning about “security of supply”. Already 50 per cent of UK gas is imported but fortuitously at present only 1 per cent comes from Russia.
Arguably, these developments in the supply of “strategic resources” like oil and gas show the importance of economic power in international relations.
Old Chapel Walk
Amidst the storm of statistics and interpretations of them in the past couple of days, one thing is clear – Scottish finance secretary John Swinney showed remarkable foresight in drawing up his infamous Cabinet paper.
The need to move away from “price-volatile fossil fuels” was highlighted. Concern was expressed about the ability to fund, for example, unemployment benefits, old age pensions and the armed forces.
You would think that First Minister Alex Salmond might have been able to tell us on Thursday in parliament whether he would cut services and benefits or raise taxes – or do both – following a catastrophic downturn in oil revenues.
Surely Mr Swinney will have had the foresight to draw up contingency plans for such inevitable events.
And he needn’t tell us in public that his oil fund would be used to smooth out such fluctuations.
His secret document shows that an oil fund itself would require “some downward revision in current spending”.
Instead, Mr Salmond tells us that the 44 per cent drop in oil revenue is a good thing and continues to propound the myth that in an independent Scotland we will all be better off. A penny for his and Mr Swinney’s private thoughts – or should that be a cent?
Braid Hills Avenue