The latest annual Government Expenditure and Revenue Scotland (GERS) figures are illuminating.
They contain an abundance of data which advocates and opponents of Scottish independence are highlighting as supporting and strengthening their side of the argument.
‘ Scotland is running the highest deficit in Europe.’
‘ The numbers show independence will mean austerity.’
‘ With higher spending per head the average Scot is getting a better deal than the rest of the UK.’
These arguments are to be expected.
Announcing the figures at a ‘glamping’ garden pod factory in Midlothian, Finance Secretary Derek Mackay highlighted the record tax revenues, increased public spending, the fall in the notional deficit and the performance of Scotland’s progressive taxes.
Whoever is in office at Holyrood will decide the expenditure of the country. But what should unite our political parties is the need to boost national income and taxation revenue, to train and attract skilled people and bring high income jobs to Scotland – particularly after we’ve left the European Union.
Growing the economy and making Scotland an even more attractive place to live, work and study should be the paramount goal of our policymakers’ priorities.
Firstly, we know that migration is needed to continue the growth of our population and our economy.
Those coming from overseas to make Scotland their home tend to be younger – but we can do more to encourage people for longer-term stay and settlement in remoter rural and island areas and we can do more to retain the local population too.
Local economies are particularly reliant on the accounting profession, which will be of vital importance in exports in the future and be part of the ingredients of success for tomorrow’s Scotland.
Secondly, with the economy virtually at full employment, the question of how Scotland will retain and continue to attract talent post Brexit, particularly in the financial, hospitality and agriculture sectors must be answered.
We must embrace the need to upskill and retrain people already in employment.
The accountant of the future requires a diverse and broad range of skills to be successful and relevant in a fast-moving world. Career patterns and pathways are evolving – the certainties of a few years ago are replaced by organic and stimulating opportunities. Ensuring that we have, develop and maintain the relevant skills and knowledge is essential.
Lastly, our MSPs need to examine how we can be more connected – how business and government can work together to develop innovative solutions and build the infrastructure required to support a more modernised Scottish economy.
Whether it is full-fibre broadband connectivity, renewable energy projects or driverless lorries, Scotland must adapt to rapidly changing climates and demographics to deliver quality infrastructure.
Modernising the Glasgow-Edinburgh rail link or dualling the A9 will be substantial steps towards securing Scotland’s economic and social development, and laying the very foundation on which our national well-being will be built.
Armadilla, the garden accommodation company Derek Mackay visited last week, says its products fulfil a demand for “something different, something special”.
The Scottish economy demands the very same innovative approach to secure our joint future and prosperity.