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Scotland is planning a £100 million stimulus to offset Brexit

NIcola Sturgeon said the move would “boost confidence”.

Image: AP Photo

SCOTTISH FIRST MINISTER Nicola Sturgeon has announced plans for increased infrastructure spending to boost the economy after the Brexit vote, and called on the British government to do the same.

In a move welcomed by business and trade union groups, the devolved Scottish administration said it would invest an extra £100 million (€117 million) on health and other infrastructure projects in Scotland this year.

“There is no doubt that the referendum outcome has created deep and widespread uncertainty, with the impact on jobs and investment already being felt,” the Scottish National Party (SNP) leader said in a statement.

The UK government has not yet taken any meaningful action to alleviate uncertainty or to boost confidence, and there are very real concerns that the damage to the economy and to jobs will be severe and long lasting.

“It is against this background that the Scottish government is announcing early action to boost confidence, stimulate economic activity and support business.”

Autumn

British Finance Minister Philip Hammond recently raised the prospect of a UK government stimulus package but has ruled out an emergency Brexit budget, saying any fiscal response would wait until the normal autumn statement.

Economic data available in that point would allow London to “to reach a proper conclusion as to whether a fiscal stimulus is required”, he said last month.

Governments typically increase spending during recessions to balance plummeting private sector activity.

Sturgeon, who had campaigned for Britain to stay in the European Union, also announced a new dedicated service to provide information and support for businesses affected by the 23 June referendum vote.

£6 billion

The government said it would examine almost £6 billion of infrastructure projects currently underway and invest the £100 million into those that have “significant economic impact and can be delivered this year”.

The CBI business lobby group welcomed the plan, highlighting road improvements and digital infrastructure projects as priorities for investment.

Grahame Smith, general secretary of the Scottish Trade Unions Congress, also endorsed the government’s announcement.

“The Scottish economy, already weak due to the downturn in the oil and gas sector, risks falling into technical recession as a result of Brexit-induced uncertainty,” he said.

© AFP 2016

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