Scotland business

John Swinney calls for oil and gas tax reform in Budget Statement

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Scotland's deputy first minister has renewed calls for a "fundamental" change to oil and gas taxation ahead of this week's Budget Statement.

John Swinney has written to Chancellor George Osborne urging him to announce measures to aid the North Sea industry.

The sector has been hit hard by the plunging price of oil, with hundreds of job cuts announced in recent months.

Mr Osborne has already vowed to take further action to support the industry in his statement to MPs on Wednesday

Mr Swinney said support for the oil and gas sector announced in last year's Autumn Statement was viewed by many in the industry as "insufficient".

He said the UK government now had a chance to "right a wrong" and put in place a fiscal regime that is "simpler, more transparent and fit for purpose".

'Credible response'

The finance secretary called for an immediate reversal of the 2011 increase in the supplementary charge and said the Scottish government also wanted a new allowance designed to reward investment in the North Sea, as well as a tax credit for exploration.

He said: "For the Budget to provide a credible response to the challenges facing the industry, it must firstly correct the damage done by the unexpected increase in the supplementary charge at the 2011 Budget.

"The underlying problem is that successive UK governments have placed too much emphasis on maximising the short-term tax take from the industry.

"This has negatively impacted on business confidence, and undermines the industry's need for a stable long term fiscal environment on which to base their investment decisions.

'Matter of priority'

Mr Swinney added: "The Budget must therefore deliver a permanent shift to a more competitive and predictable tax regime, which will allow investors to shift their focus away from fiscal risk and towards the significant investment opportunities that remain in the North Sea."

Last month the chancellor met leaders from the offshore oil and gas industry to discuss the sector's future.

Mr Osborne is widely expected to announce a change in the tax regime for the North Sea in his statement on Wednesday.

A Treasury spokeswoman previously said: "The government is following developments in the North Sea closely and is working with industry leaders as a matter of priority to address the challenges the industry faces."

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