Category Archives: Finance and Economy

COVID-19 Recovery Taxes

The more an activity risks spreading COVID-19, the more that activity should be taxed.

AIR PASSENGER DUTY

Air Passenger Duty should be massively increased considering that air travel was the way that COVID-19 was initially spread from China and air-travel can reintroduce COVID-19 to an area defeating all previous lockdown measures to eradicate the virus locally. A Scottish Air Passenger Duty should be charged for all flights into Scotland, including from the rest of the UK.

END ALL SUPPORT FOR THE INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL INDUSTRY

End rates relief, furlough payments for any company involved with the international travel industry – airports, airlines, cruise and passenger shipping, travel agents, bus and train services to England.

Cease government funding for Visit Scotland unless it changes its name to “DON’T Visit Scotland” and campaigns to keep tourists out for the duration of the pandemic. End any subsidy and support for all international festivals – such as the Edinburgh Festival and Fringe.

If this drives companies out of business then that is a price worth paying to discourage international travel to Scotland for the duration of the pandemic.

LOCAL ROAD PASSENGER DUTY

A Local Road Passenger Duty would encourage people to change their behaviour to stay local and not spread COVID-19 around because they would be taxed more the further they travel around in Scotland.

A Local Road Passenger Duty should be payable by vehicle owners, calculated as a base charge (£10 for example but the actual amount would be set in the Scottish budget) multiplied in proportion to the number of passenger seats (not including the driver’s seat) in the vehicle multiplied by the number of Scottish council areas the vehicle is taxed to drive in.

Local councils would collect the Local Road Passenger Duty, issue tax-paid display stickers and be responsible for detecting that the vehicles using their local roads had paid the Local Road Passenger Duty to use their local roads.

Example 1.

An owner of a car with 3 passenger seats lives in one council area, drives to work in a neighbouring council area and occasionally visits family by travelling through 2 additional council areas.

The Local Road Passenger Duty Tax is payable in proportion to 3 passenger seats x 4 council areas = 3 x 4 = 12 times the base charge of £10 = £120.

Example 2.

An owner of a car with 3 passenger seats which is only driven locally within the one council area.

The Local Road Passenger Duty is payable in proportion to 3 passenger seats x 1 council area = 3 x 1 = 3 times the base charge of £10 = £30.

Example 3.

An owner of a bus with 40 passenger seats runs a passenger service between 4 council areas.

The Local Road Passenger Duty is payable in proportion to 40 passenger seats x 4 council areas = 40 x 4 = 160 times the base charge of £10 so the bus owner is taxed £1,600.

The high tax for this bus service is appropriate for the danger it represents of spreading COVID-19 around.

Example 4.

A delivery van has one passenger seat and could be delivering to any of 20 council areas.

The Local Road Passenger Duty is payable in proportion to 1 passenger seat x 20 council areas = 1 x 20 = 20 times the base charge of £10 so the delivery van owner is taxed £200.

Example 5.

A taxi driver/owner has a taxi with 5 passenger seats and offers a taxi service to 6 council areas.

The Local Road Passenger Duty is payable in proportion to 5 passenger seats x 6 council areas = 5 x 6 = 30 times the base charge of £10 so the taxi owner is taxed £300.

Example 6.

A sports-fans’ mini-bus has 8 passengers seats and needs to travel through 12 local council areas to get to fixtures.

The Local Road Passenger Duty is payable in proportion to 8 passenger seats x 12 council areas = 8 x 12 = 96 times the base charge of £10 so the mini bus owner is taxed 96 x £10 = £960.

Example 7.

A motorcycle has one pillion passenger seat and travels to 7 council areas.

The Local Road Passenger Duty is payable in proportion to 1 passenger seat x 7 council areas = 1 x 7 = 7 times the base charge of £10 so the motorcycle owner is taxed 7 x £10 = £70.

Example 8.

A moped has no passenger seat and so the owner is exempted from paying any Local Road Passenger Duty on the moped.

RAIL PASSENGER DUTY

Rail passengers can spread COVID-19 around so train owners should be taxed Rail Passenger Duty for their trains too, according to the number of passenger seats times the number of council areas the train stops in.

FERRY PASSENGER DUTY

Same.  Tax ferry owners Ferry Passenger Duty according to the number of ferry passenger seats times the number of council areas the ferry stops in. The ferry owner is not responsible for paying any Ferry Passenger Duty for the passenger seats in any cars transported by the ferry.

Why tax passenger seats not actual passengers

It is a lot easier for the tax collector to count the number of passenger seats in a vehicle than the number of passengers.

QUARANTINE FOR SCOTLAND CHARGES

I have published “Quarantine for Scotland” detailing the organisation of new managed facilities for compulsory quarantine for all travellers to Scotland. Charges to pay for all that should be levied on those who have to use those new quarantine facilities because they are choosing to travel to Scotland, deliver to Scotland, or leave then return to Scotland etc.

MAKE THE UK PAY COMPENSATION DAMAGES TAX

Scotland should win the power to tax, fine or get legal compensation from the UK for the economic damage done by its mismanagement of the Covid-19 pandemic and historically.

For decades, from Ravenscraig to Longannet, the UK has pursued the deindustrialisation of Scotland and left Scots with a reliance on tourism which has made Scotland’s economy particularly vulnerable to a pandemic.

Perhaps compensation of £100s billions to be paid to Scotland by the UK could be agreed but if not then the Scottish Parliament must win the powers to impose taxes on all UK officials who visit or live in Scotland so as to collect the compensation owed to Scotland from UK officials individually.

By “UK officials” I mean people like the Queen, Prince Charles, Prince William, Princess Anne, the UK Prime Minister and Cabinet members, Members of the Queen’s Privy Council, BBC senior management, Police Chiefs, UK Supreme Court Judges, Generals, members of the House of Lords etc.

Any of those UK officials who will not or cannot pay compensation damages taxes imposed should be excluded from Scotland for non-payment of their tax debts.

SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT FISCAL POWERS

The Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government have insufficient fiscal powers, specifically  government borrowing powers, to invest to re-purpose the Scottish economy to cope with any significant economic challenge such as this Covid-19 emergency.

The Scottish government should be granted the power to borrow interest-free from the Bank of England / UK Treasury, with no repayments and no total debt limits, up to 8% of Scottish GDP.

This new Scottish government borrowing power should be permanent so that it could be used either to cope with an emergency like this pandemic or in normal times used to invest for economic growth.

If the UK refuses such new £ Sterling borrowing powers to the Scottish government then the Scottish Parliament should pass legislation to establish a new Scottish currency and Scottish central bank to manage our new currency, thereby enabling the Scottish government the normal borrowing powers of a
government to borrow its own currency as required.

I might suggest that the name of a new Scottish currency should be
THE SCOTTISH POUND BANNOCKBURN

WHAT FISCAL RULES SHOULD THE SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT FOLLOW?

The Scottish government should never again do as it did in 2016 and ever since, namely so foolishly to agree with the UK to such a bad deal £ fiscal framework which imposed such derisory limits to the Scottish government’s borrowing powers.

The 2016 Fiscal Framework Agreement was an act of self-harm by the Scottish government and Scottish parliament and so this terrible mistake must never be repeated or allowed again.

The rule should be –
DON’T DARE TO OFFER OR ACCEPT LESS THAN 8% GDP £ SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT BORROWING POWERS OR ELSE SCOTS WILL SET UP OUR OWN CURRENCY.

Anticipating that the UK will break that rule, the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government should expect to proceed to establish a new Scottish currency forthwith.

CONSULTATION RESPONSE

This blog post is by way of reply to the Scottish Government consultation –

Budget 2021/22: Supporting the COVID-19 Recovery

My actual response to that consultation can be downloaded as a PDF from this link.

Peter Dow’s response to ScotGov’s consultation – Budget 2021-22 Supporting the COVID-19 Recovery

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Financially brunette Kate Forbes

Not Legally Blonde, but Financially Brunette Kate Forbes MSP was catapulted into the national spotlight when presenting the Scottish Government’s draft budget today, whose budget content we must presume was Derek Mackay’s (who has just resigned as Finance and Economy Secretary) and therefore as unimpressive as any SNP budget constrained in borrowing powers by the bad £ fiscal framework deal that Mackay, Swinney and Sturgeon had surrendered to – but whose presentation style was impressively her own.

I am offering to help Forbes, whether as her new special adviser or otherwise, to demand and to deliver the scale of Scottish Government borrowing powers (capped at no less than 8% of Scottish GDP, about £14 billion per year, interest-free and with no repayments) that would allow for budgeting for strong growth and prosperity. If the UK refuses to concede any such proper borrowing powers to Holyrood then full borrowing powers can be secured by establishing a new Scottish currency.

With or without my help, we’ll soon see if Forbes has more substance for economic leadership than the insubstantial Mackay.

Forbes has now been tipped as the favourite for the next First Minister of Scotland, to succeed Sturgeon, whenever it is that Sturgeon decides to step down, or possibly steps up if she is crowned Queen Nicola of Scots or is elected as Scottish President of a Republic of Scotland, if and when the SNP decide to oust the Queen from Scotland.

Excuse me if I indulge my radical feminist fantasies but it occurs to me that Kate Forbes would be great serving in my fantasy Women’s Militia too.

“A well regulated Women’s Militia, being necessary to the security of Women’s Rule, the right of Women to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Scottish politics just got a little bit more interesting, especially for a single gentleman with an eye for the ladies like me.

Update, 12th March 2020

KATE FORBES – Lipstick on a pig

Yesterday’s UK budget continues the Tories’ economic warfare against Scots, as expected, but Kate Forbes’s meek response to that budget dashed all hopes of any political economics leadership from her, proving that Forbes is incapable of being anything other than a puppet for the UK civil service and she will continue Sturgeon’s, Swinney’s and Mackay’s  SNP craven surrender of Scottish government borrowing powers to the UK.

Forbes has ignored my advice and so I am afraid that her political honeymoon is over as far as I am concerned and she must answer for her terrible policy decisions which are –

  • Forbes has refused to demand proper £ borrowing powers for the Scottish government – about £14 billion/year, interest-free and no repayments.
  • Forbes has refused to repudiate the bad deal fiscal framework agreement negotiated by Swinney in 2016 and signed up to by Sturgeon.
  • Forbes has refused to commit to establishing a new Scottish currency now, throwing away an important economic lever.

Forbes is as bad as Derek Mackay in a skirt, from an economic failure point of view. Sturgeon’s government will remain puppets of the UK civil service, serving the UK, betraying the Scots.

If Scots are ever to stop being robbed blind by the UK it won’t be Forbes doing.

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Mackay is demanding much too little money for Holyrood’s credit limit

TOO LITTLE. TOO LATE.

Pig-ignorant Mackay is demanding much too little money and too late to save his job.

Satirises Derek Makay, happy as a pig in a pigsty

Mackay is demanding only the ability to rack up £1 billion of debt a year – that’s about 0.6% of Scottish GDP – peanuts, an insult to Scottish savers, most of whose savings would still be robbed blind by the UK.

We should be demanding the ability to rack up about £14 billion of debt a year – that’s about 8% of GDP – that’s proper government borrowing powers.

Mackay wants an increase in the overdraft to only £10 billion.

We should want NO overdraft limit whatsoever, only the yearly cap which can be borrowed every year indefinitely, with NO interest payments and NO repayment of the sums borrowed.

Pig-ignorant Mackay wants to pay interest and to repay the sums borrowed – pig ignorant about economics and how government borrowing works. Mackay thinks like a toon cooncillor who has to beg to borrow.

Mackay doesn’t want to govern like a government which is in charge of its own central bank and can borrow its own currency at will. That’s not a borrowing power that a toon cooncillor like Mackay would know what to do with.

Mackay is a pipsqueak of a Finance and Economy Secretary, completely out of his depth and he must be sacked for the good of the Scottish economy.

The bad deal Fiscal Framework Agreement

For years, the Scottish economy has been stagnant, with very weak growth because in 2016, the SNP made a bad deal with the UK which crushed the Scottish government’s powers to borrow money from the UK.

MSPs could have renounced the bad deal at any time. MSPs could have fought for a better £ deal with the UK, or set up a new Scottish currency and central bank to borrow from at will, but they didn’t. MSPs were too slow and too stupid and they took bad advice from a clueless university bureaucrat by the name of Anton Muscatelli, whom Glasgow University and the City of Glasgow would be miles better without.

So MSPs stuck with the bad deal which framed Holyrood budgets for austerity and weak growth, year after year. Scots suffered austerity but Sturgeon told lies and blamed only the UK for austerity when it was her signature on the bad deal. She had agreed with austerity in writing.

Finally, in September 2019, the penny finally dropped for one MSP – the new Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard, who wrote an opinion piece in the Scotsman which criticised the SNP’s bad deal that Kezia Dugdale, the previous Scottish Labour leader never had the wits to disagree with. Dugdale resigned as Labour leader and an MSP to work for Muscatelli whose bad advice she is presumably still taking. Dugdale was an economically-ignorant celebrity and she got herself out of Holyrood!

“SNP have locked us into a bad deal” – Richard Leonard & Peter Dow agree.

John Swinney and Nicola Sturgeon have signed up to a bad financial settlement, says Richard Leonard, writing in the Scotsman on 24th September 2019. Peter Dow agrees and adds …

Richard is right. The SNP’s bad deal fiscal framework crushes the Scottish Parliament’s borrowing powers, framing Holyrood austerity budgets to fail the Scottish economy, making it all but impossible to deliver growth and prosperity for the people of Scotland, which is totally unacceptable to anyone who cares for Scots.

I’ve argued that a good deal fiscal framework would allow for Scottish government £ Sterling borrowing powers capped at no less than an average of 8% of Scottish GDP – about £14 billion per year – borrowed interest-free, with no repayments, the sums borrowed simply added to the Scottish national debt – in other words, macro-economic borrowing powers for Holyrood, akin to those of a sovereign government with its own central bank borrowing powers.

8% GDP is not unreasonable for government borrowing to fund its fiscal deficit and is about what the UK borrowed on average for the 5 years following the global financial crisis of 2008, which allowed the UK economy to grow strongly out of recession.

The UK could of course refuse such a good deal £ Sterling fiscal framework, if and when the Scottish government finally demand one such – in which case establishing a Scottish currency and Scottish central bank is the appropriate response for the Scottish Government and Parliament to take. There is no sign that Richard Leonard has reached nor crossed that particular bridge yet but he has come this far so one can but hope that he or the next Scottish Labour leader will get there one day.

See also – Financially brunette Kate Forbes

Updates

23rd June 2020: Alex Neil on Holyrood’s borrowing limits

“it is for the Scottish Government and the other devolved Governments in the UK to be able to borrow the money that will be needed for economic recovery directly from the Bank of England, and on exactly the same terms and conditions as the UK Government.
… Now is an opportunity for the UK Government to give the Scottish Government the same borrowing powers. That would mean, like the UK Government, paying no interest; having no timescale for re-payment, like the UK Government; and having the power to write off loans from the Bank of England, as the UK Government already did with money that it borrowed for the recession. That is where the money should come from. … Throw the fiscal framework out the window. It is no longer fit for purpose. Give us some real short-term powers that we can use to save the Scottish economy.”
Alex Neil MSP, Scottish Parliament, 23rd June 2020

Finally, a repudiation of the bad deal fiscal framework from an SNP MSP – Alex Neil speaking like a true economist. 🙂

Press and Journal: Coronavirus: SNP MSP says Holyrood borrowing limits must be ‘thrown out the window’

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