We must create conditions for oil fund

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Your article, “Alex Salmond takes step back from oil fund” (3 March), couldn’t be further from the truth.

The reference to an oil fund in my speech to the conference on Scotland’s future last Friday reiterated, in exactly the same terms, a point in my London School of Economics address on 15 February – which was reported as a significant step towards establishing an oil fund for Scotland. Of course “fiscal conditions” must allow for an oil fund – the point I made in exactly the same terms in both conference speeches.

The point is also that Scotland remains in a stronger budgetary position than the UK as a whole, which gives us the fiscal policy choices that I also discussed in both speeches.

In the five years to 2009/10 – the most recent figures – Scotland was in a stronger current budget position than the UK as a whole to the tune of £7.2 billion.

In other words, were we an independent country, these resources over that period could have been applied to either increase spending, reduce taxation, bear down on borrowing, invest in an oil fund, or indeed any combination of these options – while having the same budget balance as the UK had during these years. Without access to our own resources, Scotland can do none of these things. That is the point and purpose of the economic choices which independence offers – one of these being the establishment of an oil fund.

We have approximately 40 years of oil and gas reserves, and more thab half of the value of these resources still to be extracted.

With so much opportunity available for the future – and the knowledge that successive Westminster governments have wasted the first half – we need to step forward as a country to create the constitutional circumstances in which we can and will establish an oil fund.

Alex Salmond MSP

First Minister