Scotland, it’s our country and we are extremely proud of it. It’s undeniable, however, that we currently a nation in flux. The future is uncertain and has been for some time. In the current debates surrounding the issue of a Scottish independence referendum, two main talking points have arisen. These are currency and the Scottish economy, with particular attention being paid to oil prices. We’re taking a look at these aspects to highlight the prominent viewpoints emerging from both sides of the debate.
On the 24th of August, findings from the recent Government Expenditure and Revenue report found that Scottish expenditure currently totalled £68.6 billion. Public sector revenue was estimated to be around £53.7 billion. Therefore, headlines soon emerged marvelling at how the SNP could possibly call for a Scottish independence referendum in light of a 9.5% public spending deficit. The figures reported by the GERS reported showed that the Scottish deficit was far higher than that of the UK as a whole. In fact, it was far higher than anyone else in the EU.
However, the issue is not nearly as clear-cut as the GERS report would lead you to believe. There is a reason that many news outlets recorded an ‘estimated’ public sector revenue figure. Many of the figures which are used in the calculation of the GERS report are just that- estimates. The GERS report shows how Scotland performs as a member of the UK. Many taxes are sent directly to Westminster, making it difficult to accurately ascertain how much revenue is really attributed to Scots.
Back in 2014, our First Minister had promised the Scottish electorate that a boom in oil prices was to be expected. However, as we can now see- this was not the case. As a result of the slump in the price of oil, Scotland’s offshore revenue has taken a substantial slump.
In light of the dip in prices, Sturgeon has stated that the challenge will now be for Scotland to grow its on-shore economy. She claims that onshore revenue remains strong and this what the country must seek to build on. Further concerns have been raised over the impact of Brexit on the future of Scottish finances. It has suggested that in the long term, a divide from the EU could cost Scotland up to £11.2 billion per year.
Arguably the most hotly contested issue surrounding a possible emancipation from the UK is that of currency. Many scenarios have been proposed so far, with the SNP taking no official stance on any this time round. Back in 2014, SNP leaders had pushed for Scotland to continue using Pound Sterling. However, this would have required support from Westminster which was uncertain. Then-Chancellor, George Osborne, went as far to call the scenario ‘impossible’.
Now, several options are being looked at. These include using the Euro, developing our own currency tied to the pound sterling, and a free-floating Scottish currency. This week, Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz advised that Scotland should look to the option of a free floating currency. Stiglitz claimed that it would enable the deficit to be lowered and stimulate the growing economy. He currently sits on the First Mister’s Council of Economic Advisers. He believes that adopting the EU single market currently would be too costly a price to pay for EU membership.
Joseph Stiglitz’s views mirror what we have known for a long time; that Scotland would benefit from a currency which is not tied to the Union. Many who use Scotcoin have come to do so after reaching that same conclusion. A free-floating Scottish pound is currently not in circulation. However, Scotcoin is.
Scotcoin is ready and waiting to be utilised. Should Scottish independence come to pass, it is extremely likely that our currency will change in some way. The way we do business will change. The thought of using digital currencies can be daunting to some as it is different. However, the reality is that change will likely come anyway. Either as a Union-tied non-member of the EU or as non-Union member of the EU, Scotland as a country faces change. An independent Scottish currency already exists and it is far easier to use than many believe. It will continue to remain whether we become an independent nation or not. So, if you echo Stiglitz’s notions then allow us to introduce ourselves. We are the Scotcoin Project and we provide a valid and efficient alternative to the pound sterling.