Norway’s reliance on oil cash boosts SNP’s case for independence

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AN INDEPENDENT Scotland would not be over reliant on oil because it makes up less of the country’s overall income than is the case in Norway, according to the SNP.

Oil revenues have contributed up to a fifth of Scotland’s annual income (21.3 per cent) in the last decade while in Norway it has reached to over a third (36.5 per cent).

The SNP said that this new analysis “has blown a major hole” in claims about Scotland’s oil dependency. Pro-union parties, however, said the analysis proves Scotland is better sticking with the UK, where oil revenues contribute just 2 per cent to the overall economy.

Scotland raised £45 billion from taxation plus £8bn from oil revenues in 2010-11, according to analysis by the Scottish Parliament Information Centre (Spice).

Norway, which has a similar population to Scotland, took more than twice as much in general taxation (£94bn) and nearly five times as much in oil revenues (£39bn).

The SNP said this proves Norway is “significantly more reliant” on oil than Scotland, but the Scotland Office said Norway does not rely on its oil to pay for public services.

Norway saves most of its oil revenues in an oil fund, a policy First Minister Alex Salmond has pledged to copy “once fiscal conditions allow”.

But the Scotland Office has said that Scotland would not be able to set up its own oil fund without cutting public services. SNP MSP Maureen Watt said: “Norway benefits from oil and gas revenues to a far greater degree than an independent Scotland would, and you’d struggle to find anyone prepared to criticise the strength of their economy.”