Magazine article Public Finance

Swinney Wants Borrowing Powers for Holyrood

Magazine article Public Finance

Swinney Wants Borrowing Powers for Holyrood

Article excerpt

The Scottish Government should be given the same borrowing powers as local authorities, Finance Secretary John Swinney has told a parliamentary committee.

He said the need for greater financial powers for Holyrood should be considered by the commission reviewing the Scottish Parliament's current responsibilities. The commission, set up by the opposition parties, is headed by Sir Kenneth Calman, chancellor of Glasgow University.

Swinney was giving evidence on May 27 to the Parliament's finance committee, which is conducting an inquiry into future methods of funding capital expenditure. He was being questioned specifically on the minority Scottish National Party government's plans to set up a Scottish Futures Trust to replace the Private Finance Initiative.

One of the proposals would result in councils issuing municipal bonds for the financing of capital projects such as schools, hospitals and transport. In a consultation document published last week, the Scottish Government said a grouped, public sector bond was possible because of the borrowing powers of local authorities.

Although councils have the power to borrow money, the Scottish Parliament and government do not.

Swinney told the MSPs that he hoped the Caiman commission could be persuaded to propose the same powers for Holyrood.

He added: 'There are legitimate areas where it would make sense for the powers of the Parliament to be enhanced in a fashion which allows the Parliament [and] the government to be more effective, in securing greater opportunities for taxpayers within Scotland. …

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