The Scottish government will raise funds on capital markets for the first time by 2026, First Minister Humza Yousaf said, in an effort to establish its financial independence from the UK.
(Bloomberg) — The Scottish government will raise funds on capital markets for the first time by 2026, First Minister Humza Yousaf said, in an effort to establish its financial independence from the UK.
Scotland will issue its first bond to fund infrastructure projects like affordable housing, Yousaf, the leader of the pro-independence Scottish National Party announced in his keynote speech at its annual conference. The debt sale will take place by the end of the devolved administration’s parliament, with elections in Scotland due in 2026.
“This will bring Scotland to the attention of investors across the world,” Yousaf said. “And it will raise our profile as a place where investment returns can be made. In doing so, we will show the world not only that we are a country to invest in today.”
Scotland’s administration in Edinburgh has had the ability to issue debt since 2015 under British rules to spread power. The SNP sees this as a key step toward financial sovereignty in its quest for independence from the UK. Yousaf said the bond sale would require “due diligence and market testing” before it could go ahead.
“Brick by brick — institution by institution — we are laying the foundations for what will be our newly independent state,” Yousaf told party members in Aberdeen.
The 38-year-old Scottish leader is under pressure to lay out viable plans to secure independence, almost 10 years after a referendum on the issue saw voters reject leaving the UK. Still, it led to then premier David Cameron to promise to hand more finance and borrowing power to the Scottish government.
Opinion polls suggest the SNP is at its most vulnerable since it took power in Scotland’s devolved parliament 16 years ago. Yousaf has had to manage internal party divisions since he replaced Nicola Sturgeon as leader in March.
Hanging over the party is a police investigation into the SNP’s finances with Sturgeon and her husband both arrested and released without charge in an ongoing probe. They deny wrongdoing.
Earlier this month, Keir Starmer’s Labour Party proved they were regaining popularity in its former Scottish heartland by winning a seat from the SNP in a special election in the Glasgow suburbs. Last week, SNP MP Lisa Cameron defected to the Conservative Party over an internal party row.
Yousaf sought to counter Labour’s resurgence and promise to headquarter Starmer’s promise of a new public energy company in Scotland, with the SNP’s own pledge on clean power. He announced the Scottish government will invest up to £500 million over five years to anchor a new offshore wind supply chain.
“A catalyst for additional private investment in our ports and harbors, supporting inward investment and encouraging domestic companies to seek new opportunities,” Yousaf said.
(Updates with Yousaf comments from fifth paragraph.)
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