Scottish Greens oppose ‘mini tax haven’ freeports

Freeports have no place in Scotland

The Scottish Greens are the only party to have voted against corporate tax breaks associated with the establishment of two Scottish freeports.

Freeports are special economic zones which offer various tax breaks, lower tariffs and other incentives to (usually very large) businesses. They are designated areas of up to 45km where normal rules and regulations do not apply and are essentially subnational tax havens.

Speaking in the debate on the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax relief which will be applied within the freeport zones, the Party’s finance spokesperson, Ross Greer MSP said:

“What else are freeports other than mini tax havens?

“There is a significant reputational risk to Scotland here, particularly considering the findings of the European Commission report entitled ‘Money laundering and tax evasion risks in free ports’.

“The EU is cracking down on freeports due to what it described as a “high incidence of corruption, tax evasion and criminal activity.”

“But Brexit Britain is taking the opposite approach, setting up new freeports all over the UK.

“I recognise the Scottish Government’s commitment to fair work, but in the case of these freeports it is just recommendations and guidance. There are no binding commitments to ensure that the companies adhere to fair work principles, or clear consequences if they do not.

“For all the reasons I have outlined, as well as the objections raised by trade unions, environmental groups and communities, the Scottish Greens oppose freeports.”

Greer also cited evidence that previous UK freeports established by the Thatcher government displaced large numbers of jobs rather than creating new ones and raised concerns that the economy of the west of Scotland, which is already suffering from depopulation, will be disadvantaged by the freeports being located in the east and north of Scotland.

Freeports are an excluded area in the cooperation agreement between the Scottish Greens and Scottish Government. This announcement does not affect the agreement.