Independent Scotland ‘could borrow billions’

An INDEPENDENT Scotland could borrow billions of pounds in its fledgling years to tackle austerity, finance secretary John Swinney has suggested.

John Swinney said he favoured more borrowing. Picture: Neil Hanna
John Swinney said he favoured more borrowing. Picture: Neil Hanna

The prospect is contained in proposals for the first three financial years – 2016-17 to 2018-19 – if Scotland leaves the UK following a Yes vote.

The SNP minister said he favoured more borrowing instead of the coalition government’s current austerity drive. The plans would see a borrowing increase of some £2.4 billion in 2018-19.

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He said: “We could have saved a great deal of hardship, a great deal of difficulty for the Scottish economy, if we had borrowed in 2010 to encourage recovery.

“What an independent Scotland would have to do, or would have the choice to do, is do things differently and to make some of those choices I would like to have seen in 2010 to encourage growth and dynamism.”

But Liberal Democrat Treasury Secretary Danny Alexander hit out at the plans.

He said: “This is another example of the Scottish Government saying anything to try and get their numbers to add up. Every single independent expert has said that Scotland will have a higher starting deficit – it’s only the Scottish Government that won’t admit it.

“Now they are telling us that they plan to borrow money while paying tax revenues into an oil fund – it’s like maxing 
out all the credit cards just to put a few quid under the mattress.”