by Alex Porter
Norway is now the second richest country in the world in terms of wealth per capita, thanks to her oil income from the North Sea, according to new research.
Newly released figures show that Norwegians have benefited enormously as a result of using their oil wealth as a form of investment.
The figures will provide ammunition for First Minister Alex Salmond, a former oil economist, who has called for North Sea oil tax to be devolved. An oil fund for Scotland should also be established to provide a legacy for future generations argues the SNP leader.
In 2010 the average wealth per adult in Norway (US$) is $326,530 which represents a 195% increase since the year 2000. At the same time the UK’s per capita wealth now stands at $229,940 or an increase of 41% since the beginning of the millennium.
Table courtesy of Credit Suisse.
In a recent interview, the former chief economist of the World Bank, Joseph Stiglitz, told Newnight Scotland’s Gordon Brewer that the UK should think of North Sea oil as an investment instead of using it as a source of income.
Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, the second largest in the world, has exceeded the expectations of most Norwegians and now stands at £315 Billion, which equates to 10 years of Scotland’s block grant from Westminster.
With UK government borrowing to pay for the UK’s budget deficit reaching over £15 Billion per month the Scottish economy according to GERS (Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland), by contrast, is showing a surplus.
The political debate in Scotland therefore is departing from the UK debate. With the Holyrood elections looming Scotland will focus on who is to blame for the financial crisis and on whether UK austerity measures would only damage an economy which is currently robust.
An Ipsos MORI poll (1) this week showed over 80% of Scots blame the current or last UK governments for causing the crisis in Britain’s public finances.
As the Holyrood election campaign approaches the SNP can push its core independence policy by juxtaposing the crisis in Britain’s finances with the soaring success of Norway’s.
Norway’s burgeoning prospects are considered by nationalists as being the best model for showing what an independent Scottish economy would look like. The geographical location, population and natural resources all match.
In a separate development a new Scottish website www.PeakOilScotland.org has been launched that seeks an urgent national debate over the changing diplomatic and geo-political status of Scotland internationally as the world faces ‘peak oil’.