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Salmond must publish secret document on independence set-up costs

29 May 2014

Ruth Davidson MSP

Alex Salmond is under increasing pressure to publish secret figures on the cost of setting up a separate Scotland – with just 100 days until the referendum vote.

Two years ago, Finance Secretary John Swinney wrote in a leaked memo that the work was already underway in “Finance and the Office of Chief the Economic Adviser to build a comprehensive overview of the institutions, costs and staff numbers which I will draw together and provide an update to Cabinet in June”.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson MSP today challenged the First Minister on why he has failed to publish the financial workings of what it would cost to set up all the new departments and institutions needed for a new state.

However, Alex Salmond refused to acknowledge the work even existed.

On the question of set-up costs he instead cited a figure of around £200million produced by an academic, but was unable to give a breakdown of the figure.

The Institute of Chartered Accountants Scotland has estimated it would cost at least £750million alone just to set up a new system for collecting tax.

The Finance Secretary admitted in his secret memo that “undoubtedly there will be a cost associated with setting up and running the necessary institutions and in some cases these are likely to be significant”.

He added that “one of the largest institutional costs will be that of tax collection and administration”.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson MSP said:

“Two years ago, the Finance Secretary promised to provide detailed set-up costs for an independent Scotland for SNP ministers.

“John Swinney even outlined which civil servants in which departments were carrying out the actual work.

“On Wednesday, he was asked eleven times to produce this figure but was unable to do so.

“With just more than a hundred days until the referendum vote, it is simply staggering that Alex Salmond is now denying this work ever took place.

“He is treating the people of Scotland like fools by refusing to make public a detailed breakdown of the costs of setting up all the new departments and institutions in the event of independence.

“With the First Minister’s own oil projections now falling short of what he predicted, it is now even more incumbent on him to do so.

“Alex Salmond’s is showing nothing but contempt for voters with his refusal to tell them the real cost of independence.”

 

 

 

John Swinney’s confidential memo to the Scottish Cabinet (written in 2012) can be read here: http://b.3cdn.net/better/c1d14076ee08022eec_u9m6vd74f.pdf
“Para 49. Work is currently underway in Finance and OCEA to build a comprehensive overview of the institutions, costs and staff numbers which I will draw together and provide an update to Cabinet in June. As part of this work I will also be looking to my officials to provide an overview on the skills we will need to maintain our new institutional framework.”
Other key paragraphs:
Para 43: “Undoubtedly there will be a cost associated with setting up and running the necessary institutions and in some cases these are likely to be significant. Initial work has shown that we will have a number of choices around how we set-up and design our economic and financial institutions based around best practice and degree of Ministerial control…”
Para 44. “One of the largest institutional costs will be that of tax collection and administration…”
Alex Salmond 10.26am Wednesday 28 May 2014
“Professor Dunleavy, as opposed to the gross exaggeration and misrepresentation of his work by the UK Treasury, has put an estimate of £250-300m as his estimate as an expert in the field.  Now we’ve pointed out that that is a reasonable estimate.”
(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xh14_O2GWE)
The reference to New Zealand’s tax system costs comes in the paper by ICAS: Scotland’s Tax Future; Taxes Explained
p. 13: “In New Zealand, for example, changes to the tax system which are less complex than those for an independent Scotland are costing around £750m. The cost for an independent Scotland could be significantly greater, especially considering the scale and the complexity of the legacy systems which might be inherited from the UK. What it is really going to be, and how it is to be paid for is a question that still needs to be answered.”
http://icas.org.uk/News/Latest-News/-Scotland-s-tax-future–paper-published/