Covid-19 Fiscal Implications

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

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workers

are financially insecure—in stark contrast with the tax-dodging elites who have salted away money into overseas havens while corporate executive’s pay has rocketed.

While Scotland remains devolved, the solutions lie at Westminster, so we must press it to act. We must press it to devolve more resources and the flexibility to use them to invest in infrastructure, which has a higher gearing effect on revenue expenditure, on support for our public services and on back-up for threatened job-rich sectors and our entrepreneurs. Not only that, but we must strengthen our fiscal position and tap into new revenue sources by taxing online giants including Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google for the private data that they hold on us, and by taxing online retailers in order to level the playing field for our seriously challenged high streets. All that would help.

As I urged in March, coronavirus profiteering must be tackled by the UK Government, which has the power to act. The Competition and Markets Authority has little power, but Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs has power. In both world wars it imposed taxes of over 100 per cent where necessary, and in 1981 and 1982 Mrs Thatcher’s Tory Government imposed profiteering taxes on, respectively, banks and oil companies. That was followed in 1997 by Labour imposing a windfall tax on privatised utilities. Scottish ministers should lobby for the UK Government to act, and for Scotland to get its rightful share of consequentials.