Independence 'could spark jobs boom'
The Scottish government has suggested that cutting corporation tax in an independent Scotland would lead to a "jobs boom".
The statement was made at an event to launch a 200-page document setting out the economic policy choices available if voters said "yes" to independence.
The SNP-run government believes Scots will be better off if they back change in next year's referendum.
However, opponents have insisted a go-alone Scotland would struggle to cope.
Former chancellor and leader of the pro-Union Better Together campaign, Alistair Darling, said that in an independent Scotland the burden of the growing elderly would "fall on a population of five million, instead of 60 million [as part of the UK]".
To be clear, today was not a draft manifesto for the SNP - nor even a final list of Scottish government priorities. It was a menu, a declaration of what might be possible under independence, whoever might be in power. ”
The independence referendum takes place on 18 September 2014, with voters in Scotland being asked the yes/no question: "Should Scotland be an independent country?"
Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond and Finance Secretary John Swinney launched the government's economics report in Dundee.
It is the last of a series of documents ahead of next week's publication of the Scottish government's White Paper on independence.
It has set out the entire range of economic powers which would be available under independence - along with the argument that sensitive, sensible use of those powers would produce policies better tailored to Scotland's needs.
Mr Salmond said: "Scotland can more than afford to be a successful independent country, with a thriving economy and opportunities for everyone. We have vast natural resources and huge human talent - but those advantages have been stifled by having our economic policy run by Westminster.
Where might the jobs come from?
- Increasing Scotland's productivity performance by 1% could boost employment by about 21,000 over the long-term.
- Increasing Scotland's economic activity rate of one percentage point would be equivalent to an extra 30,000 plus people in the labour market.
- Reducing corporation tax, and changing the tax system in general, could create approximately 27,000 jobs.
- An increase in Scottish exports by 50% could create more than 100,000 jobs in the long-term.
Source: Scottish government
"The one-size-fits-all economic policies of successive Westminster governments have failed and are continuing to fail the people of Scotland. We perform well at the moment but we should be doing so much better.
"A simple glance at many other European countries of similar size to Scotland, some without the natural advantages Scotland has, shows that we have lagged behind their growth rates for decades.
"Independence will give us the chance to build an economy that takes advantage of Scotland's unique strengths and size to deliver a more outward focussed, fairer and resilient economy, boosting revenues and creating many thousands of more jobs."
Mr Salmond said the paper set out key policy areas post-independence, including;
- Establishing an industrial strategy which rebalances the economy and diversifies Scotland's industrial base - promoting manufacturing, innovation and boosting productivity. (The SNP believes that increasing Scotland's productivity performance by 1% has the potential to boost employment by about 21,000 over the long-term).
- Promoting participation in the labour market by delivering more efficient employability, welfare and skills programmes and transforming child care. (The SNP says an increase in Scotland's economic activity rate of one percentage point would be equivalent to an extra 30,000 plus people in the labour market).
- Targeting measures to reduce outflow of labour and attract skilled workers to enhance Scotland's population growth. The Scottish government says this would build on the current projections of 9% growth over the 25 year period of 2012 to 2037.
- Using tax incentives to support growth in key sectors, such as tourism and the creative industries, and target areas such as reforming Air Passenger Duty.
- Using targeted tax measures, such as a reduction in corporation tax, to counterbalance the pull of London and the South East of England. The Scottish government says the initiative could create approximately 27,000 jobs.
- And boosting the internationalisation and brand recognition of the Scottish economy. The Scottish government says a 50% increase in the value of Scottish exports could boost output by about £5bn and create more than 100,000 jobs in the long-term.
The latest paper from the Scottish government comes a day after a report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) which suggested that an independent Scotland would face big challenges ahead.
The IFS forecast assumes a decline in North Sea oil revenues and a population ageing more rapidly than in the rest of the United Kingdom.
It warned an independent Scotland would need to cut spending or increase taxes for its finances to be sustainable in the long term.
It said Scotland would face a "fiscal gap" of 1.9% of national income, compared to 0.8% for the UK.
Better Together's Mr Darling said: "Yesterday the independent and impartial Institute of Fiscal Studies reminded the people of Scotland what John Swinney has been privately telling his cabinet colleagues for months.
When, Who, What?
- The Scottish independence referendum takes place on Thursday 18 September, 2014
- Only voters in Scotland are eligible to take part in the poll
- They will be asked the straight "yes/no" question: "Should Scotland be an independent country?
"If we were to leave the UK we would face the prospect of big tax rises, damaging cuts to public services - or a combination of the two.
"Today, the Nationalists have chosen to ignore reality and to offer up a type of fantasy economics that beggars belief.
"Instead of admitting the obvious challenges caused by the rise in the number of elderly people, the fall in the number of people of working age and the eventual decline in North Sea oil, the Nationalists have reverted to type.
"Their response is to deny that there are any problems and to say, yet again, that the experts are wrong."