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Businesses press SNP to publish 'blueprint for independence' sooner

CBI Scotland has called on the Scottish Government to speed up publication of its White Paper.

Business leaders have urged the Scottish Government to speed up the publication of its blueprint for independence to provide "greater clarity and certainty" about the economic impact of leaving the UK.

CBI Scotland director Iain McMillan said 2013 would be a crucial year for the debate over Scotland's future.

The business lobbying organisation has drawn up a list of questions covering areas such as the economy, defence jobs and taxation.

It also called for more detail on issues such as the currency of an independent Scotland and its fiscal and economic position, as well as how long negotiations between London and Edinburgh would last.

The White Paper is due to be published in November next year, but CBI Scotland said it "would urge the Scottish Government to consider publishing it, or at least those elements relating to macro and micro-economic policy, earlier than currently envisaged in order to provide the greater clarity and certainty that businesses seek".

In his New Year message, Mr McMillan said: "As part of their due diligence ahead of the referendum, many business leaders will carry out an assessment of the possible impact of Scotland leaving the United Kingdom on Scotland's economy and their businesses.

"This gives rise to many questions and as we go through 2013, a crucial year in this debate, undoubtedly further questions will arise. We hope very much that the White Paper will address these questions in full and provide the necessary supporting evidence."

Questions over the share of oil and gas allocated to Scotland if it left the UK need answered, along with how the Government would fund public spending "in the current era of declining and volatile oil production".

Other questions relate to what "tax raising philosophy" would be pursued, as well as the "critical issue" of what currency would be used and how much influence Scotland would have over monetary policy if it keeps the pound in the event of independence.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said ministers would continue to engage with "all interested parties" in the run-up to publication in November.

She said: "We are doing all we can to deliver for the business community in the areas where we have responsibility and our economic strategy makes clear that delivering sustainable economic growth is our top priority.

"We have already set out in Scotland's draft budget further investment in construction, skills and the green economy and earlier this month the Finance Secretary announced additional funding for construction projects worth a total of £205 million.

"The latest labour market statistics showed Scotland's unemployment rate is lower than that of the UK as a whole and is the lowest of all UK nations.

"With the full fiscal and economic powers of independence we could do even more to support companies, strengthen our economy and create jobs."

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