Covid-19 Fiscal Implications

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 16th June 2020.

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Photo of Donald Cameron Donald Cameron Conservative

I am grateful. Thank you, Presiding Officer.

We do not see the need to renegotiate the fiscal framework—and absolutely not in the midst of a crisis such as the one that we are experiencing, when the priorities must be public health and economic recovery. The fiscal framework is due to be reviewed next year.

Any debate on the fiscal implications of the pandemic should first be framed in terms of the human cost and the lives that have been tragically lost to this horrific disease. We also require to compute the economic loss, and not just in terms of the fiscal impact and the public finances. Workers and businesses in Scotland today are thinking day to day and week to week about financial survival. The Scottish Government is making political decisions that affect that, as the cabinet secretary candidly admitted last week when she said that recovery could be slower in Scotland as a result of lockdown being eased in a different way from how that is happening the rest of the UK. All our efforts should be focused on getting businesses back on track and rebooting our economy, ensuring long-term recovery and then growth, so that our public finances are secure. That should be the unwavering, unstinting and unrelenting aim of everyone in Parliament.

I move amendment S5M-22033.1, to leave out from “that the funding requirements” to “impact of COVID-19” and insert:

“the Scottish Government’s current borrowing powers and the extent to which they have been used in the current 2020-21 budget; further notes that the Scottish Government now plans to make use of a further £66 million of reserves, leaving a total of £165 million in the Scotland Reserve; acknowledges that the UK Government is estimated to have spent in excess of £10 billion in Scotland throughout the course of this crisis to date; agrees that the Fiscal Framework concluded by both the UK and Scottish governments in 2016 is currently operating as it should; welcomes the protection of 800,000 Scottish jobs, thanks to the UK Government’s unprecedented economic interventions”.