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MSPs vote to establish Scottish national investment bank

Plans to establish the Scottish National Investment Bank were initially outlined by Nicola Sturgeon in 2017.

Holyrood: Bill passed on Tuesday.
Holyrood: Bill passed on Tuesday.

MSPs have paved the way for Scotland to have a public bank after voting to pass legislation allowing for its creation.

Plans to establish the Scottish National Investment Bank were initially outlined by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in 2017.

It will aim to help firms by making it easier for them to borrow money over a longer-term basis of between 10 and 15 years.

The Scottish Government has committed to investing £2bn to capitalise the bank.

At Holyrood on Tuesday, MSPs passed the Scottish National Investment Bank Bill – which will allow the bank to be set up – by 113 votes to zero.

Finance Secretary Derek Mackay said supporting a transition to zero carbon emissions would be a primary focus for the bank, adding time must be allowed for it to reach its full potential.

“The Bill demonstrates Scotland’s ambition towards transforming our economy and tackling major societal challenges,” he said.

“Passing this Bill today marks the next step towards establishing the bank – it allows for a robust, credible and impactful new organisation in Scotland’s economic landscape.

“It puts in place the foundations for the creation of a commercially-minded, yet publicly accountable institution.”

Opposition MSPs backed the legislation but raised some concerns about the Scottish Government’s plans.

Conservative MSP Dean Lockhart said the “transformational change” the bank could bring would “happen only if the bank is part of a coherent economic policy framework and where there is absolute clarity on strategy and objectives”.

He said “there is still much work to be done in this respect”.

Lockhart added: “With initial capitalisation of £2bn and operating costs of up to £20m a year, the bank will have to demonstrate it is making this transformational impact across Scotland.

“We need to ensure we are seeing a real return from the bank.”
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said he had argued for an investment bank to be created 25 years ago.

He said: “The establishment of a Scottish National Investment Bank with this legislation today is something that we support.”

Leonard welcomed the focus it will have on sustainable development and tackling climate change but said Labour did not believe the plans were “bold and ambitious enough”.

He added: “There is too much of an air of tame mediocrity about it, when what we need is courage and ambition.

“We need much more than just a spark – the people of Scotland need a comprehensive economic plan, a proactive industrial strategy.”

Green MSP Andy Wightman said it was “disappointing” his party’s amendments, which would have included climate commitments on the face of the Bill, were voted down by the SNP and Tories.

He added: “They say they agree that tackling the climate emergency should be the Scottish National Investment Bank’s primary function but why then have they lacked the courage to put it on the face of the Bill?”


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