George Kerevan: National investment bank should be debated at 2017 SNP conference


Leading party economist says Scottish national investment bank urgent given proximity of #indyref2

ONE of the SNP’s leading economists has said that a Scottish national investment bank (Snib) should be debated at the 2017 SNP conference.

George Kerevan MP told an audience of SNP delegates at the IdeaSpace conference fringe festival that the policy urgently needed to be considered, given the proximity of a possible second independence referendum.

Addressing a meeting on Snib, which heard advocates discuss the idea of a bank that could lend to socially useful enterprises to combat low investment by both the UK Government and private industry, Kerevan said that the time for the policy “has come”.

“At next year’s conference lets have this [Snib] on the floor of conference, rather than at the fringe,” he said

“This is an idea whose time has come,” he added.

Kerevan, who is a former lecturer in economics at Napier University, also said that the Scottish Government’s growth commission, established to re-configure the economic case for Scottish independence, was an opportunity to propose the bank.

Section of the audience at IdeaSpace session on Snib

He said: “We have a window because the first minister has opened up the growth commission.

“That’s the ideal forum. This draft paper should go to the growth commission.

“Indyref 2 could be in 2 years, we need to up our game on economic matters,” he added.

Kerevan made the comments before an audience of around 100 SNP delegates and others, who crossed the Clyde to attend the IdeaSpace festival for radical ideas, established after many campaigning and charitable organisation were priced out of the SNP conference.

One member of the audience, to applause, said: “Why next year? Why have we waited a year?”

Scotland already has a Scottish Investment Bank (SIB), which Kerevan said didn’t have the fund’s to overcome chronic shortages of investment capital in the economy, but did represent a precedent in Scotland.

Kerevan was speaking alongside Laurie McFarlane of the New Economics Foundation (NEF) which published a report into Snib alongside CommonWeal to coincide with the SNP conference.

Read: CommonWeal and NEF Blueprint for a Scottish National Investment Bank

He said that the UK had “an underinvestment problem” with huge disparities in investment across the country. Around £300 per head of public infrastructure spending was invested in Scottish transport in 2015-16 by the UK Government, compared to around £2,500 per head in London.

McFarlane pointed to examples of national investment banks in Germany and Brazil, which he said had secured finances for emerging and green sectors in their economies, and that this was important for the future development of Scotland’s renewable energy economy.

He said that the NEF and CommonWeal report projected that a national investment bank would have saved £26 billion from expenditure had it been used instead of Public Private Partnerships (PPP), to construct public works.

In September Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn gave a speech in Glasgow where he promoted Snib as a policy that could attract investment to Scotland and away from it’s over concentration in London and the south east of England.

Pictures: CommonSpace

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