Highlands and Islands SNP MSP Rob Gibson has backed a call to allow borrowing powers for the Scottish Parliament as a way to kick start transport infrastructure projects in the North and West.
Mr Gibson has signed a motion from Ochil SNP MSP Keith Brown which calls on the UK Government to give the Scottish Parliament the same powers as the Northern Island Assembly.
At present the Northern Ireland Assembly is allowed to borrow (up to £2 billion) however the Scottish Parliament is barred from any borrowing.
Mr Gibson says that it is time for that to change.
"The current economic circumstances means that different actions are needed to deal with the faltering economy, that means an ability to borrow and bring forward public works programmes which will stimulate the economy is key."
"A Scottish Parliament with borrowing powers could have real and positive benefits to the Highlands and Islands. Increased money could allow transport projects to be started. This would improve safety as well as giving a much needed boost to the construction industry."
"A continued bar on borrowing would be unfair and counter productive. There is a strong will in the Scottish Parliament and the wider country for this to happen it is up to Westminster to listen and act. It is time for the UK Government to give Scotland a chance to emerge from the downturn in a strong and competitive position by allowing its Parliament borrowing powers."
"Indeed given the flat refusal from the UK Government to bring forward the funding for a new Forth Bridge then it could be argued that it is imperative that the Scottish Parliament is given powers which could kick start the economy."ENDS
Copy of Motion
S3M-03270 Keith Brown (Ochil) (Scottish National Party): Borrowing Powers for the Scottish Parliament— That the Parliament recognises that one of the major aims of any government is to facilitate sustainable economic growth; acknowledges that the current lack of fiscal powers limits the Scottish Government’s ability to react to changing conditions in a way that is attuned to Scotland’s distinct circumstances; notes that the Northern Ireland Assembly can borrow up to £2 billion, and calls on the UK Government to listen and respond to the growing demands from both inside the Scottish Parliament and beyond for borrowing powers and to take any action necessary to put those powers into place so that Scotland can emerge from the current economic downturn in a strong, competitive position.
Lodged on Wednesday, January 21, 2009; Current