By Martin Kelly
First Minister Alex Salmond will today set out six key job-creating powers for Scotland that are guaranteed with a Yes vote in the independence referendum – as he challenged the Prime Minister to name a single job-creating power certain to come after a No vote.
Mr Salmond said independence was the biggest opportunity people will ever have to win the powers needed to take advantage of Scotland’s great wealth to build a more secure economy and create more jobs.
Speaking as some 200 business people signed a letter setting out the economic opportunities of independence, the First Minister said Alistair Darling’s embarrassing failure to name even one new jobs power, if the vote is No, is a defining moment of the campaign.
Mr Salmond said:
“Scotland is one of the richest countries in the world – wealthier per head than the UK, France and Japan, so we are more than capable of being an economically successful independent country.
“But despite our wealth and vast resources nearly everyone in Scotland will know of friends or family members who have had to leave to get a job or further their career.
“As we approach September 18, people and business leaders are waking up to the opportunities of independence.
“With full control over economic powers we have the opportunity to tailor economic policy to our needs, which means a jobs policy that puts the interests of Scotland first.
“For politicians at Westminster, London and the South-East of England are seen as the economic powerhouse so it’s inevitable that they will focus jobs and investment there.
“Alistair Darling was unable to name any job-creating powers guaranteed by a No vote when I debated him earlier this week – so today I am laying down the same challenge to the Prime Minister.”
Mr Salmond and Mr Darling met in a live TV debate on Monday with most observers agreeing the First Minister performed better than his pro-Union rival. Just as in their STV clash, Mr Darling struggled when asked to define what powers would be guaranteed to Scotland in the event of a No vote.
Following his win over the Better Together leader, Mr Salmond repeated his challenge to UK Prime Minister David Cameron for a similar live debate. The Conservative leader is scheduled to make a speech in Glasgow today.
Mr Salmond added:
“I have challenged David Cameron to a debate, now that Mr Darling has said he will refuse any more head to head encounters – but whether he accepts that challenge or not, the PM must use his visit to Scotland to say what powers Westminster is guaranteeing, to allow the job-creating businesses of Scotland to boost employment and the economy.
“And if he fails to do so, the choice is clear – a Yes vote which guarantees the powers Scotland’s companies and entrepreneurs need to create jobs and opportunities for future generations of Scots, or a No vote which will deliver absolutely nothing.
“Independence isn’t a magic wand but with a diverse economy, huge natural resources and a highly-educated workforce we have firm foundations on which to build a more prosperous country and fairer society.”
Mr Salmond said a range of job-creating powers is guaranteed with independence and he highlighted six of the key economic opportunities of independence:
(1) Control over our business tax system – to give companies an incentive to grow and take on more staff.
– A 3 per cent cut in corporation tax can reverse the loss of corporate headquarters from Scotland and create 27,000 jobs.
– Research and Development incentives to boost innovation. A one per cent increase in productivity could create 21,000 jobs in the long-term.
(2) Control over our finances – expanding childcare will allow more parents to work and will create jobs directly in the childcare sector.
– With independence the extra taxes generated will stay in Scotland, helping to fund the policy. And we can protect Scotland from Westminster’s cuts to capital spending and invest more in infrastructure.
(3) Control over Air Passenger Duty – to create jobs in the tourism industry and other sectors this tax could be cut and eventually abolished.
– A recent study estimated Air Passenger Duty will cost Scotland more than £200 million a year in lost tourism spend alone by 2016.
(4) Control over employment policy – to bring together skills and employment initiatives.
(5) Control over trade policy – a 50 pc increase in exports could mean an extra 100,000 jobs.
– With independence there will be 70-90 overseas embassies and offices dedicated to promoting Scottish business.
(6) Control over immigration policy
– Westminster is turning away talented graduates who want to stay on and set-up businesses and create jobs. We can choose the immigration policy that’s right for Scotland.