Greens bid to bolster ethical aims of new investment bank

The Scottish Greens today outlined distinct plans for the proposed Scottish National Investment Bank to have robust policies on ethical investments, a push towards a zero carbon economy and overall greater scrutiny.

Green MSP Andy Wightman will attempt to win backing from Holyrood’s parties for his amendment to provide the new bank with better “social and environmental outcomes”, including an obligation to deliver strategic housing investment.

Wightman is also expected to challenge Scottish Labour to ditch its proposals for a bank focussed on “increased growth” and to instead put forward a strategic programme in line with the left-wing ideology embraced by the party’s leadership.

Mr Wightman, a Lothian MSP, said:

“As a national financial institution, we all have vested collective interests to ensure that this bank will invest in projects and programmes that deliver a sustainable future. With our proposals, the bank will be required to have a strategic focus on the future of the Scottish economy by investing in new low-carbon technologies to build energy resilience.

“It’s surprising to see Labour insist that the bank’s main focus should be for it to ‘drive increased growth’. It’s far from being even remotely socialist and their insistence on profit being the bank’s key goal is disheartening. No economy can be sustainable when growing numbers of its young people cannot afford basic, affordable and warm homes. With social renting off-limits to all but the most financially challenged and affordable housing not worthy of the descriptor, an investment bank has a key role to play in providing the kind of strategic housing investment that is desperately needed.

“We also want Holyrood to have a key role in establishing the bank’s ethical investment code, which in our view should be enshrined in the primary legislation establishing the bank. We also propose that the bank could provide a Scottish payments company to reduce the costs to small businesses of processing payments. This cost reduction will lower GDP, but increase productivity. Currently around 2% of the value of payments is lost to the Scottish economy - some £1 billion per year at a rough estimate.”