Salmond says Scottish finances as strong as UK’s
Scotland’s public finances will be in at least as strong a position as the rest of the United Kingdom’s if it votes for independence, First Minister Alex Salmond said on Wednesday.
Salmond’s figures are likely to be disputed by Britain’s deputy finance minister Danny Alexander, who is due to present the Westminster government’s analysis of the costs to Scots of independence later in the day.
Salmond said Scotland would have a net fiscal deficit of 2.8 percent of gross domestic product in 2016-17, similar to the 2.5-3.2 percent range his Edinburgh administration estimated in November, based on Scotland taking a share of the United Kingdom’s public debt equivalent to its population.
This is close to the 2.4 percent that Britain’s Office for Budget Responsibility estimates is likely for the United Kingdom as a whole, and lower than what Salmond said Britain would borrow if the opposition Labour Party wins a UK-wide election in May 2015.
“This analysis shows that on all headline measures of the public finances, Scotland’s fiscal position is forecast to be stronger than or at the very least level with the UK position,” Salmond said.
Previously Britain’s finance ministry has pointed to estimates that Scotland would have a budget deficit of more than 5 percent of GDP, due to steeply declining oil receipts and an ageing population.