Freeports are a repeat of failed trickle-down economics, not welcome in Scotland

Freeports have no place in a fairer, greener Scotland

Freeports are a repeat of the failed 80s experiment in ‘trickle-down economics’, act as mini tax-havens and risk attracting criminal activity, says the Scottish Greens finance spokesperson Ross Greer MSP.

This morning, Mr Greer was the only MSP on the Finance and Public Administration Committee to oppose legislation enabling two Scottish freeports and their associated tax breaks.

In his questioning of the Minister for Community Wealth and Public Finance, Tom Arthur and in a short speech before the vote, Mr Greer highlighted that the tax breaks provided would apply even to companies based in overseas tax havens such as the Cayman Islands and that there are no requirements for businesses operating in the freeports to pay their workers decent wages or to recognise trade unions.

Speaking after the vote, Mr Greer said:

“These freeports are certainly not green. Quite the opposite. They’re a repeat of a failed Tory experiment in trickle-down economics, essentially creating mini tax havens that allow corporations to get out of paying their fair share to support the NHS and other services that we all rely on.

“The freeport experiment of the 1980s only worsened inequality by moving jobs around the country rather than creating new ones. In the case of these Scottish freeports there is a real risk of jobs being moved from a west coast already struggling with depopulation to an east coast which, in relative terms, is thriving.

“Internationally, but especially in Europe, freeports are associated with organised crime, especially money laundering, smuggling and the exploitation of workers. That presents a major risk to Scotland’s international reputation.

“Devolution allows us to do things differently in Scotland. Given the absolute disaster that is the UK’s Tory government, different is exactly what we should be aiming for.

"We should be pushing for better standards and support for workers and trade unions. At the very least we should exclude companies based in tax havens from buying property in Scotland, never mind being given tax breaks to do so.

“We can’t achieve prosperity through deregulation and tax breaks for the super-rich. These are ideas that have already been tested to destruction and have failed every time.

“The Scottish Greens want the eye watering profits of big business to be reinvested in our communities, not squirrelled offshore to tax havens.”