Audit Scotland eyes Holyrood financial skills
By Vivienne Russell | 4 September 2012
Scotland's public spending watchdog, Audit Scotland, will be keeping a close eye on the financial skills of the Scottish Government as the independence debate gathers pace.
Caroline Gardner, Scotland's new auditor general, told Public Finance that the recently passed Scotland Act, which devolves some tax-varying and borrowing powers, also underlined the need for high-level financial skills in the Scottish civil service.
'As the Scotland Act is implemented and Scotland has more financial autonomy, its ability to forecast its share of income tax receipts, property tax receipts and waste tax receipts becomes all the more important,' she said.
'The risk of getting it wrong is bigger because it will be for Scotland itself to manage the consequences of any increases or shortfalls in receipts and as we start looking at further devolution or independence that becomes all the more important.'
Gardner said that the Scottish Government had already begun the work of thinking about how it develops a 'Treasury-style' function.
'It is something we'll be following closely through our new audit work to get a sense of how it is managed,' the auditor general added.
Gardner said that, as auditor general, she could take no position on the pros and cons of independence, but would have a 'key role' in ensuring that the debate was based on a sound understanding of public finances.
'We know that the public finances will be a key issue for those who are in favour of independence and for those who are against it, and there will be all sorts of temptations on both sides to position the figures in the most favourable light,' she said.