BBC Scotland Economy Editor casts doubt on viability of Scottish oil fund

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By a Newsnet reporter

BBC Scotland’s Business and Economy editor, Douglas Fraser has suggested that the SNP’s plan for a wealth fund supported by North Sea revenue is not sustainable.

Mr Fraser (pictured) described the goal of Alex Salmond’s party as “very difficult” because we are “tied in” to current “very large deficits” and, he added, the money was needed to fund public services.

By a Newsnet reporter

BBC Scotland’s Business and Economy editor, Douglas Fraser has suggested that the SNP’s plan for a wealth fund supported by North Sea revenue is not sustainable.

Mr Fraser (pictured) described the goal of Alex Salmond’s party as “very difficult” because we are “tied in” to current “very large deficits” and, he added, the money was needed to fund public services.

The BBC reporter was commenting after newly published figures showed that Norway’s oil fund has now grown to a staggering $600 billion from an initial outlay of only $300 million in 1996.  The Norwegian fund now owns over one per cent of the world’s stock.

However, Mr Fraser claimed that such a fund created concerns that were known as “a resource curse” by some due to the sreliance on “one resource” and said that Norway faced difficulty with exports due to the strength of the Krone.

Mr Fraser, a former political editor at the Herald newspaper, also described how Norway had restricted how much could be spent from the fund on national projects each year to four per cent of the fund earnings.

The BBC Scotland Economy and Business Editor also questioned whether Scotland would have invested in a fund had the country been independent and suggested what he claimed were inefficient Scottish industries may well have needed the cash.

He said: “You have to ask in hindsight if Scotland had had the power to take this money and do what it wanted with it, would it have created a big wealth fund or would it have propped up a lot of very inefficient industries.”

Mr Fraser’s claims will no doubt be challenged by the Scottish government who have already insisted that within a couple of years of independence a wealth fund could be set up.

Receipts from the oil and gas sector were, earlier this year, estimated to be expected to boost the UK Treasury by over £13 billion in 2012.

Analysts have suggested that around £1.5 trillion worth reserves are still to be extracted from the sector.

Hear Mr Fraser’s report here:

 

Related stories:
http://newsnetscotland.com/index.php/scottish-economy/5369-bbc-scotland-business-editor-casts-doubt-on-sft-savings-figure

http://newsnetscotland.com/index.php/scottish-opinion/4791-skintland-its-only-satire-says-bbc-scotlands-douglas-fraser


[Newsnet Comment – This latest report by Douglas Fraser was sadly in keeping with what many listeners have come to expect from the former Herald political reporter.

The report was peppered with language that left the listener in no doubt as to Mr Fraser’s own opinion on the idea of a Scottish oil fund.  The claim that an independent Scotland would have had to bail out inefficient industries was flippant and unnecessary; as usual there was no attempt by either the studio anchor or Mr Fraser to qualify this claim.

However, whilst it is perfectly legitimate to hold such views, it is not appropriate for them to colour BBC news items.  

This is not the first time we have heard the BBC Scotland Business Editor try to dampen news that might be best described as being ‘helpful’ to the SNP and independence.  Mr Fraser, on too many occasions now, seems unable to resist the temptation to introduce a political element to his economic reports.

Newsnet Scotland last week carried news that protests against ‘BBC Bias’ would discontinue.  However BBC Scotland would do well to remember that concerns over their presentation of Scottish politics in general, and the constitutional debate in particular, remain.]