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Coronavirus Impacts on Scottish Economy Part 2: with George Kerevan

Written by on 26th April 2020

On 24 April, we talked to George Kerevan about his thoughts regarding the impact of Coronavirus on the Scottish economy. Listen here:

Here are some of the topics we touched on:

  • The Scottish Government has been fast at getting money to companies but scale of impact is devastating. More that half of small businesses say they won’t survive more than 3 months because of cashflow.
  • We could give companies money and then take a degree of ownership in those companies rather than force loans on them.  
  • Offshore tax havens. Companies who are based in off shore haven and are avoiding taxation should not get any support until they re-register in Scotland. Denmark has already come out and said that.
  • Scottish National Investment Bank has an operational board which needs financial expertise. It also has a civic board which has oversight of the long-term strategy and ScotGov needs to be imaginative in whom they appoint to that Civic Board.
  • In the shorter term the First Minister would benefit wider broad-based set of advisors to help steer us out of this lockdown and begin restructuring of the economy where that is needed.
  • Our economy is going to look very different post this crisis. Countries will want to secure their supply chains. We import daft things – like egg boxes from Poland – over hundreds if not thousands of miles. That kind of supply chain is going to break down. That creates both opportunities and problems
  • Food industry in Scotland. Maybe we should think less about sending that food around the world and instead create a food industry that serves our own needs. And we should make sure that the profits from all the sectors of our economy stay in Scotland.
  • The Independence argument then becomes about making us more resilient and keeping our financial resources in Scotland.
  • Our Common Home (OCH) Plan Green Plan from Commonweal think-tank does that. We need bodies like Commonweal to do some of the longer term thinking needed for Scotland. ScotGov has laid down some admirable overall targets for decarbonising our economy. The OCH Plan is very important in that it tackles the details of how to do that.
  • Universal basic income is an idea whose time has come.  It could be brought in to help deal with this crisis and also be at the core of our arguments for independence. it needs to be a permanent replacement for our benefits system.
  • People should have a right to the basics to have a roof over their head, have health, food, education. aubi could also transform out attitude to work. If we can earn what we need and work fewer hours then that’s great. We can spend that time in other worthwhile ways
  • GERS figures – they are inadequate and misleading.
  • The wealth of a nation is in their people, the people make the wealth, and Scotland has that in great measure. But our wealth is spent by other people. There are many examples of small countries in Europe who are dealing with this crisis very well and there is no reason why an independent Scotland would not have done that too.
  • There are benefits to being a small country. Small means nimble, means smart, means fast. Communities pull together more easily in small countries.
  • Post the virus, we should not be repeating the old debates about whether we can grow faster, etc. The debate needs to be about resilience, how we look after ourselves, have we learned the lessons for the next outbreak because there will be other outbreaks. The argument for self government is going to change.
  • George’s article The Sleeper based on William Morris’ “News from Nowhee”. It has an optimistic view of what may emerge from this pandemic.