Finance secretary promises updated oil revenue figures

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Finance Secretary John Swinney has promised to update figures on oil and gas revenues.

Scottish Conservative finance spokesman Gavin Brown had challenged him to do so as he led a debate on Scotland's finances after independence on 26 March 2014.

Mr Swinney said the new figures would be published in the coming weeks.

"The government intends to publish its third oil and gas analytical bulletin in the coming weeks which will set out the impact that recent developments in the North Sea have on the outlook for future production and revenues as a consequence," the finance secretary told MSPs.

It will build on information in the Scottish Government's White Paper on independence, published last November, to extend projections beyond 2016-17, he said.

"Now that more data is available we will extend those projections over a number of years, building on the analysis in the White Paper and the central conclusions that Scotland is a wealthy country that will start life as an independent nation with great economic prospects," he added.

Mr Brown pointed to Scottish government figures which put oil revenue as high as £7.9bn in 2016.

It compares with an estimate of about £3.2bn from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), set up by the UK government.

Mr Brown said: "This means we have a £4bn black hole between what the OBR are saying and what the Scottish government claims will be the case."

The one year projection in the White Paper contrasted with the OBR which last week published fiscal projections to 2019-20 and the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) which had 50 year projections, said the Conservative MSP.

Mr Brown said the government's figures, in one sole page of its White Paper on independence, were "now obviously highly questionable" and he challenged the government to defend them.

A number of independent experts predicted a weaker fiscal position than the Scottish government, including the recent report by the Centre for Public Policy for Regions, he added.

Mr Swinney said there were billions of pounds worth of more cuts coming from Westminster, with an overall fiscal DEL cut of almost 11% over the period of this spending review.

The recent Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (GERS) data showed tax revenue was £800 higher per head in Scotland compared with the UK, said the SNP MSP, adding tax receipts had been higher in Scotland for the last 33 years.

"Over the past five years, Scotland's public finances have been healthier than the UK's by a total of £8.3 billion - that's the equivalent of nearly £1,600 per person."

This, he said, would mean an "independent Scotland would rank as one of the wealthiest countries in the world".

The second part of the debate can be viewed here: Finance debate: Conservatives 2

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