The Scottish National Party’s plans for creating a flourishing Scottish economy involve making Scotland among the 15 most competitive countries in the world with a 3% growth in population by 2015. Could any of the SNP’s suggestions work in Northern Ireland?
Under its “Let Scotland Flourish” plan, the SNP plans to reduce corporation tax by a third to 20%, a policy that would have an even greater effect in Northern Ireland, which is in direct competition with the neighbouring Irish Republic, where the rate is just 12.5%.
Why the urgency?
Scotland has struggled with the lowest long-term growth rate in the European Union over the last generation. The result is a predicted loss of half a million people over the next 40 years.
The growth gap between Scotland and the UK has grown to 30% and the SNP say something that could be said about how NI politicians look to solve the same problem there.
“Our opponents would have us focus on block grants from the
Treasury, chasing bigger shares of public spending to combat growing social problems. But we need more than just plans for spending; we also need plans for the kind of growth that will allow us to fund our social democratic ambitions for Scotland. In short, it is time for us to stop talking about social democracy in Scotland and start earning it.”
The paper also includes specific actions such as lower corporation tax, lower business rates to below the English level and institute a proactive immigration policy that welcomes new Scots and encourages people to move back to Scotland.
“In 2002, the growth rate over the last 25 years showed Scotland lagging significantly behind the UK, which in turn was
outperformed by small European nations and dramatically outshone by our nearest neighbour, Ireland.”
25 year average annual growth rate (1979-2004)
Small EU countries: 3.1%
The most pertinent paragraph in my view is:
“The role of government in an increasingly globalised economy is to create the best climate for economic growth by ensuring that policies are carefully tailored to the specific circumstances of the nation.”
How can the politicians of Northern Ireland deliver the climate necessary to make the region competitive if they are so content to remain under direct rule?