Author: Chris Green
An independent Scotland should embrace high levels of immigration and taxation to grow its economy as it seeks to emulate countries such as Denmark, a major report will say on Friday.
In its long-awaited analysis of the economic potential of independence, the SNP’s Sustainable Growth Commission will say Scotland could drive up its GDP by learning from other small nations.
However, the group’s chairman said bringing Scotland’s performance up to the level of countries such as Denmark, Finland and New Zealand would take “over a generation” after it left the UK.
The 354-page report, entitled Scotland: The new case for optimism, is also expected to back the creation of a new Scottish currency after an initial period of continuing to use the pound.
It concludes that if Scotland could compete with the world’s 12 best performing small advanced economies in terms of GDP, its economic output would be boosted by around £4,100 per person.
Setting out the means by which this could be achieved, it includes a 12-point plan drawn from the experiences of the 12 economies, which also include Hong Kong, Singapore and Switzerland.
It says they are all “migration friendly” and have not tried to compete with other countries by becoming “low tax locations” – suggesting that this is an approach Scotland should emulate.
The remaining six countries mentioned by the report are Austria, Belgium, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. Overall, it makes 30 separate recommendations on economic growth.
It points out that smaller economies have consistently performed better than larger ones over the past 25 years, growing by around 0.7 per cent per year on average.
The Commission’s chairman Andrew Wilson said its report would demonstrate how Scotland could emulate “the best performing economies and societies in the world”.
As a first step there must be an acceptance that small nations can be successful and that Scotland can be one of those countries,” he added.
“Our work shows that small countries can be amongst the most economically successful…with higher standards of living and lower levels of inequality than many larger economies.”
But he added: “To secure an improvement in our performance will take purposeful strategic effort for over a generation.
“We require world class policy, world class institutions and cross partisan effort if we are to achieve our ambition to create a much more successful economy and cohesive and fair society.”
No launch event
The report will be published online tomorrow with little fanfare, as the SNP has decided not to hold a launch event or question and answer session with Nicola Sturgeon.
Holyrood’s opposition parties said Scots would be wary of the report’s conclusions given the SNP’s bold predictions on future prosperity ahead of 2014’s referendum.
“This is exactly the kind of nonsense that turned people off separation the first time round,” said Scottish Conservative deputy leader Jackson Carlaw.
“The SNP can pluck out any number of fanciful examples, but it won’t change the fact Scotland is far more prosperous and secure as part of the UK.
“People are still asking the question why the SNP is putting so much effort into a question that was settled decisively just a few years ago.”