By Domenica Goduto
The Scottish National Party has refused offers of financial advice from the Treasury, despite concerns about the Scottish Government‘s ability to make appropriate spending cuts in the face of the recession.
Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy claims that the SNP Administration is “the least efficient of all four UK governments.” He offered First Minister Alex Salmond the services of top Treasury advisers and civil
servants in an attempt to improve the Scottish Government’s efficiency target, which Murphy said is “the lowest efficiency target of them all”.
“If it hit similar targets to those the rest of the UK is chasing, it would be able to find the relevant efficiencies and be able to help real people through the global recession. It cannot be exempt from tightening its belt along with the rest of us.”
The SNP’s refusal has created further tension between the Labour and SNP administrations . Labour claims that the 2% efficiency savings proposed by SNP finance secretary John Swinney does not measure up to the 3% savings to which Westminster, the Welsh Assembly and the Northern Ireland Assembly aspire.
A spokesman for John Swinney argues that “The very last people to advise Scotland about efficient government would be the very Treasury who have presided over a financial disaster, racked up £1.4 trillion of debt and whose forecasts aren’t worth the paper they are written on.”
This is not the first time the SNP Administration has turned down offers of assistance or otherwise refused to cooperate with Westminster. Last month John Swinney turned down the Treasury’s offer of £1 billion to be put towards the construction of the new Forth Bridge on the grounds that the money would simply be siphoned off from other sections of Scotland’s budget. First Minister Alex Salmond also faced criticism later in March for refusing to enter into discussions with the Calman Commission – an independent group set up to review the Scottish Government’s devolved powers – because Scottish independence would not be considered as part of the review.