The SNP Government in Edinburgh should establish a Scottish Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), Scottish Labour said.
Shadow Finance Secretary Jackie Baillie said that the major new tax powers coming to Scotland through the Smith Agreement means the new powerhouse Scottish Parliament needs independent economic forecasting and analysis more than ever. From April this year new tax powers will also be devolved to the Scottish Parliament, making the case for a new body now.
Scottish Labour will call for the new body to be set up immediately when the SNP Government in Edinburgh introduces its budget in Holyrood on Wednesday.
The SNP Government’s record of cooking the books on oil makes the case for a Scottish Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), Scottish Labour said.
The move was welcomed by respected economist Dr Angus Armstrong of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR).
Scottish Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Constitution and Economy, Jackie Baillie MSP, said:
“Taking responsibility for being honest with Scots about what the economic future holds away from ministers and into the hands of experts free of political manipulation is the right thing to do for Scotland.
“With the major new powers coming to Scotland the government in Edinburgh will be responsible for collecting much of the taxes Scots pay. We need to know there is a watchdog holding ministers to account. The need for independent, reliable and impartial economic forecasting and analysis couldn’t be greater.
“But I want the Scottish OBR to go one step further, and scrutinise the manifestos of all the political parties at the Scottish Parliament. Voters in Scotland deserve to make an informed choice. There should be no place to hide for those seeking the trust of the Scottish people.
“When John Swinney presents his budget to the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday he should accept Scottish Labour’s plan for a Scottish OBR.
“The way the SNP cooked the books on oil during the referendum proved they can’t be trusted to be honest with the Scottish people about the public finances. Scots were misled on oil by the SNP and it must never happen again.”
Dr Angus Armstrong said:
“This is a serious and timely proposal from Scottish Labour. A Scottish OBR will renew confidence in the public accounts because it puts them beyond politicians’ control. The new powers being delivered to Scotland through the Smith agreement demand this.
“With broad new powers over tax and welfare comes new responsibility for the Scottish Government. A Scottish OBR will help a Government of any colour meet this challenge.
“The Scottish Government should implement this immediately so that we are fully prepared for the new powers coming through the Smith consensus. It is an idea that business, civic Scotland and all parties can unite around