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by Patrizio Lecca, Peter McGregor and Kim Swales, Fraser of Allander Institute, Department of Economics and Strathclyde International Public Policy Institute, University of Strathclyde and Centre for Constitutional Change

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This blog originally appeared on The Economics of Constitutional Change, 3 December 2013

The level of debt and how an independent Scottish Government would deal with it is a hugely important issue. Given that it is currently running a deficit – its spending exceeds its tax revenue – Scotland will be dependent on the commercial money markets to supply funds to pay for that part of the costs of public services which cannot be paid from current revenues.

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The general aspirations for the tax system set out in the White Paper, such as wanting ‘a simple and transparent tax system’, are admirable. But all governments espouse such goals. The question is what specific changes an independent Scottish government would implement that would make it more successful in achieving those goals than successive UK governments have been.

Not unreasonably, the White Paper postpones most such specifics, proposing ‘a more significant review of the tax system in the early years of independence’. Radical reform should not be rushed.

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by David Bell, ESRC Fellow, University of Stirling

Debt – Further Clarification Needed.

Did the White Paper on Scottish independence need to be so long? It arrived on my desk with a resounding thud and I wondered whether we were supposed to judge it on its physical or intellectual weight.  Yet even with the concerted efforts of the Scottish Government to produce a comprehensive prospectus, there are still issues that need further detail.

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Approximately 300 days remain until the morning of the 18th of September, 2014, when Scots will decide on their constitutional future. While the political debate is picking up momentum, thus far the focus has been on such issues as constitutional scenarios, debt shares, monetary policy, EU membership, fiscal performance, oil revenues, tax contributions and structure, defence arrangements and so on, but little attention has focused on business itself.  Yet, the health of the business community is fundamental to the health and prosperity of the economy, and society, as a whole.

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Building Security and Creating Opportunity: Economic Policy Choices in an Independent Scotland

This Scottish Government report sets out the economic policy levers that would be available under independence in key areas such as competitiveness, innovation, sustainability and international trade.

Executive Summary

The Scottish Government believes that Scotland's economic performance is constrained under the current system and that it is only through independence that Scotland can maximise its potential and deliver the type of economy and society that reflects the values of the people who live and work here.

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