Scotland needs ‘informed debate’ on economics of independence, says Derek Mackay

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Scotland deserves an "informed debate" about the prospect of independence, Derek Mackay has said, amid criticism over plans of his own "alternative" figures on the country's fiscal situation.

The Finance Secretary claimed that the official Government Expenditure and Revenue in Scotland (GERS) figures were a "misrepresentation" of the public spending implications of leaving the UK.

Derek Mackay faced criticism over"alternative" GERS

Derek Mackay faced criticism over"alternative" GERS

The most recent GERS figures showed that Scotland has deficit - the gap between public spending and taxes raised to fund them - of about £12 billion.

It has prompted pro-union leaders to warn that Scotland would face years of ramped up austerity cuts with independence - or major tax hikes.

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Tory MSP Jamie Greene hit out at the plans to publish new figures setting out Scotland's fiscal position.

Mr Greene said: "Last month the cabinet Secretary said he wants to provide and alternative GERS because he feels - and I quote "frustrated" - when GERS are published every year.

He added: "Why are you so frustrated with these independent figures - and which impartial economic authority will independently verify your figures when you produce them?"

The GERS figures are published by Scottish Government statisticians, but Mr Mackay confirmed other figures relating to the economics of independence, provide a fuller picture as the SNP steps up demands for a second referendum on leaving the UK.

"As the UK Government increasingly disregards the democratic wishes of the people of Scotland, it's more important than ever that we complete the necessary steps to hold a referendum on independence," he told MSPs.

"The Scottish Government produced a comprehensive plan for an independent Scotland in 2014 and as we set out in our programme for Government, we will undertake the necessary work to update that plan and ensure that the people of Scotland have the information they need to make an informed choice on the future of their country."

He added: "We want an informed debate around the future of our country.

"I've never challenged the impartiality of our statisticians. What I have found frustrating is the misrepresentation actually as they relate to Scotland.

"People misrepresent GERS as trying to suggest that it would reflect the potential of an independent Scotland when it doesn't make any such suggestion.

"It is not a reflection of an independent Scotland or it's potential . It's the estimated notional position within the current constitutional position and I think it's right and fair that we have an informed debate about the options for our country and that that is based on fact and the wonderful potential that Scotland has."