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Scottish Council Development and Industry – Future Scotland report

May 31, 2013

The SCDI recently released its Future Scotland report, which involved a consultation with its numerous organisations from business, local government and the unions about Scotland’s future challenges and directions. Not surprisingly, this involved looking at the independence issue and the range of economic, social and political questions generated by the referendum.

The full report is here – http://www.scdi.org.uk/pi/2013/SCDIFutureScotlandMay13_Discussions_and_Priorities.pdf

Anyone looking for information on some of the key questions for debate about indyref will find this a rich source of material. Part of the document is a research paper of economic challenges, not least the future headwinds facing Scotland, the UK and the OECD countries generally in the decades to come due to the growth of new economies. The report also indicated some of the sensitivities of the SCDI membership – some are cautious about being seen to intervene in the constitutional debate and most haven’t discussed the issue in their organisations and adopted formal positions [p.8].

The document sets out four economic priorities for Scotland:

1. to increase entrepreneurship and business innovation

2. increase investment in infrastructure

3. increase exports

4. increase use of human capital

 

Of course, a good question related to this is which constitutional option or model will allow these priorities to be addressed – not that there are clear answers here. But the report does flag up important areas/problems for the Scottish economy from its consultations with members – the long-term importance of oil, gas and renewable energy, the strength of the Edinburgh financial sector, concerns over Scotland’s lack of connectivity due to the high cost of air passenger duty and over visa limits [not least on Chinese visitors].

 

There are also some interesting points made in the report that tell you quite a lot about current Scottish Government and SNP views on independence – supporters of Radical indy look away now – in relation to maintaining the UK single market for business, the role of the Bank of England as a regulator and the retention of the pound and Scotland as part of a currency union with the rUK [p.19, 24]. There was no great support for lower corporation tax but recognition that future monetary and fiscal policy had to do much more than serve the interests of the City of London. The role of Scotland and the UK in the European Union was also recognised, along with the engagement of Scotland in UK and Europe-wide energy markets. 

One final point – the SCDI members aren’t particularly impressed by the nature and quality of the constitutional debate and produce a list of questions for consideration. Whether either side will be able to answer these is another matter mind you. But the SCDI does raise issues of transition and negotiation between the Scottish Government and UK that provide some useful food for thought.

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