The First Minister has repeated his call for the Tory-LibDem coalition to use some of the £1 billion of extra revenues the UK Treasury will receive from rising oil prices to introduce a fuel stabiliser.
Mr Salmond insisted that such a mechanism is urgently needed and condemned the lack of action that has left families and businesses having to deal with rising fuel and VAT costs.
SNP MSP for Cunninghame North Kenneth Gibson highlighted the problems rising VAT and fuel duty are causing for families and businesses and the pressure on the Scottish budget during First Ministers Question in the Scottish Parliament.
Mr Salmond said he would approach the UK Government over the cost to the Scottish budget of meeting VAT and fuel duty rises. The VAT increase will cost the Scottish NHS alone an additional £26 million.
The First Minister said:
“The recent increase to VAT and fuel duty introduced by the UK government will generate additional pressures for Scottish businesses and families and indeed public services at a time when Scotland is already facing unprecedented cuts in public spending and when economic recovery remains fragile.
“As Mr Gibson will be aware the Scottish government has written to the UK government opposing these increases and of course making the case for a fuel duty stabiliser, something which was supported by the prime minister and the chancellor before the election but now they seem extraordinarily reluctant to introduce it just when the time is right for such an initiative.”
Mr Gibson acknowledged the First Minister’s concerns and said:
“The SNP has consistently argued for a fuel stabiliser to bring prices down and help businesses and families.
“Every penny of fuel tax and duty heading to the Treasury is a penny out of Scotland’s economy and Scotland’s budget and will add to costs of goods across the country.
“Businesses cannot afford to be kept hanging on by the Tories. The UK Government should commit to scrapping the duty and introducing a stabiliser now.”
Earlier this week Mr Salmond had promised to make rising fuel costs a central issue in the forthcoming Scottish election campaign. The SNP leader insisted that he would take the fight for Holyrod to obtain the power to reduce Scottish fuel prices straight to Downing Street.
Mr Salmond condemned the rising cost of fuel in Scotland and added:
“Oil revenues flowing into the London Exchequer will be £10 billion this year, another £1 billion from recent price increases, and yet we are paying the highest petrol prices in the world.
“It’s an unbelievable position. How on earth can you arrive at a situation where Europe’s leading oil producer, along with Norway, is in that position? No other country would stand for it.”