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CBI builds pyramid of questions for firms to consider as independence debate goes on

Many important issues surrounding the impact of the independence referendum on businesses have had "little profile" in the debate so far, according to one of Scotland's leading business bodies.

CBI Scotland's new "referendum toolkit", developed to offer guidance to its members and seen by the Sunday Herald, categorises issues considered essential to "due diligence" in the run-up to the autumn 2014 ballot.

The toolkit includes a pyramid diagram of three categories of issues relevant to business owners.

The higher layers show "economic issues with high profile", including North Sea oil revenues, currency, EU membership, bank assets and liabilities, and national debt share. There are also "economic issues with some profile", such as monetary and fiscal policy, financial sector regulation, corporation tax and power generation.

However, the biggest category is "issues with little profile but pertinent to firms", which includes industry and product standards, licensing regimes, most taxes, trades union rights, health and safety laws, corporate homicide, competition policy, corporate governance rules, self-regulation, membership and approach to international trade bodies.

David Lonsdale, assistant director of CBI Scotland, said: "Compiled by members from a range of different sectors, the referendum toolkit is an aid or prompt designed to assist firms with their own thinking about the implications of Scottish independence, as firms have differing approaches to how they register and manage risk.

"We will be revising and updating the toolkit in 2013. Together with our submission to the Scottish Government's proposed White Paper on independence, it should aid firms' thinking about what independence might mean for them."

A spokeswoman for Finance Secretary John Swinney declined to comment on the significance or otherwise of the subject areas listed in the CBI toolkit, and declined to say whether or not it supports the CBI recommendation that companies should pro-actively consider how business, regulatory, employee and taxation questions, along with queries pertinent to key sectors such as food and drink, energy, financial services and water, might affect their operations.

She also declined to say whether or not the Scottish Government believes that clarity on the above issues is necessary for businesses to make an informed decision on how to vote in the referendum.

In response, the Scottish Government spokeswoman instead said: "We have set out our intention to show, through a range of papers, speeches and events, the infrastructure of an independent Scotland, and this Government's view on why we believe independence to be the right road for Scotland and our economy.

"For example, the fiscal commission will present its recommendations early this year for the macro-economic framework of an independent Scotland. Our approach to developing a more efficient tax system can be seen through our approach to Revenue Scotland and we have begun discussions on the ways by which an independent Scotland could simplify the regulatory environment for business while ensuring protection for consumers and employees.

"As part of that process we are already discussing with organisations, including businesses, their ideas for an independent Scotland and would encourage all those with an interest in growing Scotland's economy to consider the opportunities independence could bring for their business."

Contextual targeting label: 
Business

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