Sunday 12 October 2003

Why is investment dropping?

The Sunday Times (registration may be required outside the UK) tells us that overseas investment in Scotland is declining:
Scotland now attracts just 6.9% of the total inward investment to the United Kingdom, according to statistics released by Jim Wallace, the enterprise minister. The figure has been in steady decline after reaching a high point of about 20% in the early 1990s.

The executive’s own research showed that Scottish businesses face one of the highest tax burdens in Europe.

Our high taxation is clearly one reason for the decline but I wonder if the establishment of the Scottish parliament is also responsible. Since 1999 the world must surely have noticed that almost all of Scotland's politicians are confirmed statists, regulators and tax collectors par excellence. And yet the same politicians seem to have a vague idea that new entrepreneurs are a necessity:
Ministers want more children to regard successful entrepreneurs such as Tom Hunter, right, as role models in order to encourage positive attitudes to business at an early age. The Executive is worried by research, including a survey last year, which found that the fear of failure remains a major barrier in the minds of many would-be businessmen and women. The survey found this fear was greater in Scotland than in almost any other small nation examined. Ministers hope that by fostering confidence in, and understanding of, business in the young, they are more likely to be the wealth creators of tomorrow.
The Scottish Executive, and most of the opposition, wants to have it both ways. They want Scotland to enjoy the wealth created by businesspeople but at the same time they have a horror of any sort of inequality of outcome. But it's one or the other guys. We can all be equally poor or differently prosperous. I know which I prefer.