FIRST Minister Alex Salmond yesterday stepped up the pressure on Westminster to set up a Scottish oil fund.
He also calls for Alistair Darling to reconsider the introduction of a fuel duty regulator to minimise the impact of rising fuel prices in a letter to the Chancellor.
“Pensioners and low-income families in Scotland face the prospect of being plunged into fuel poverty,” Mr Salmond states.
The letter argues that the soaring price of oil means the Treasury will enjoy a £6.2billion windfall in 2008-09 – on top of the original revenue estimates. There is evidence that the knock-on inflationary pressures of fuel increases are having a greater impact in Scotland than elsewhere in the UK, according to the first minister.
“In light of the additional windfall revenue from the North Sea this year, there is now more than ever a compelling case for Scotland to receive direct access to a share of our oil and gas revenues through the establishment of an oil fund,” Mr Salmond adds in his letter.
“I once more call upon you to give Scotland a share of the windfall gain, £500million, to set up an oil fund for the benefit of future generations.”
He also calls on Mr Darling to consider a series of measures from the farming, road haulage and fishing industries for reduced fuel prices in remote areas, a red diesel rebate for farmers, and hauliers to be granted “essential user” status – qualifying for a rebate.
Mr Salmond’s fresh calls come after publication of the Government Expenditure and Revenues Scotland (GERS) report this week.
This sets out what government spends in Scotland compared with its revenues. One of the findings that, if Scotland had a geographical share of North Sea oil, it would’ve been in budget surplus by £837million in 2006-07. Excluding North Sea revenues entirely, the estimated budget balance for the public sector in Scotland was a deficit of £6.7billion.
A spokesman for Mr Salmond said the GERS report puts it “beyond doubt” that Scotland more than pays its way.