Revenue stream

The Holyrood Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (Gers) 2012-2013 report is out, with an online summary, and it indicates that revenues attributed to us have dropped back in the last year.

The 2011-2012 estimated overall fiscal deficit of more than £7 billion, with most of the North Sea oil and gas revenues included, has increased to £12 billion, linked to the acknowledged decline in North Sea receipts.

Peter Jones (Perspective, 11 March) wrote that worse is yet to come in the next few years, and there is no reason to think otherwise as the costs of getting up the fabulous 12-24 billion remaining North Sea barrels are increasing dramatically, cutting back the profits on which taxation is based.

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Much reliance is being placed on calculating GDP per head relative to the UK and to the world; it seems to show Scotland ahead of the UK again in spite of the drop in oil receipts.

But whereas we were apparently the sixth richest country globally a couple of years ago, according to our finance secretary, we are now only 14th (the UK is 18th).

The oil revenues are proportionately much more significant to us than to the UK as a whole, and there are real concerns that the promises of Scotland’s Future are just plain unaffordable in the longer term.

How do you redistribute a worsening deficit to get a “fairer and less unequal” society?

Then again, there are several definitions of how to calculate GDP – using GNP comparisons might give a different picture.

Plain cash seems to speak loudest, however. And again, what sources of revenue replace the oil as the wells run down to very little in just a couple of decades?

Joe Darby