Friday, 02 November 2007
SNP now winning debate after Wicks' oil fund comments
Glasgow SNP MSP, Bob Doris, has welcomed the Parliamentary Answer he received today from Enterprise Minister Jim Mather on the floor of the Scottish Parliament Chamber where Mr Mather stated that the Scottish Government sought to emulate and exceed the powers of Canadian Provinces who have responsibility for the revenues accruing from oil reserves on their territory.
Commenting Mr Doris said: "It is very welcome that Jim Mather saw for himself the benefits that a Canadian Province like Alberta can accrue from husbanding their own oil reserves.
"It is a contrast that sits oddly with Scotland's position where we find ourselves seeing oil revenues flowing south into the London Exchequer. The Chancellor has already projected the coming six years of North Sea Revenues will be £55bn – a substantial increase over the £38bn from the previous 6-year period.
"The Canadian Provinces of Alberta and British Columbia are doing particularly well because they enjoy a high level of financial and fiscal autonomy, control their own resources and retain an increasingly fair share of the wealth created in their provinces.
"In particular Alberta's oil fund ensures lower personal and business taxes for Albertans. The responsibilities that the Canadian Provinces hold are in sharp contrast to the power London Government has over our own resources.
"It is refreshing that Scotland now has an Enterprise Minister prepared to put forward strong Government support for Scotland to emulate the success of Alberta and see the husbanding of our own oil resources as right, urgent and guaranteed to reward the people of Scotland.
"Coming after Labour Minister Malcolm Wicks' comment that building up an oil fund like Norway was an attractive idea this shows the debate on a Scottish oil fund is going in the SNP's favour."
The comments made by Mr Wick's, the UK Minister of State for Energy, appear in The Guardian, 27 October 2007. An extract from the article is detailed below:
"In the Norwegian sector of the oil field, where many of the crew had worked as well, the industry is organised somewhat differently . . . the tax revenues have been husbanded rather than spent by the government.
"Even Malcolm Wicks is a little envious: 'If you could replay history, the idea as in Norway of building up a national [oil] fund is actually quite an attractive one'."