ALEX Salmond has dismissed warnings that an oil-reliant independent Scotland would face tougher economic choices than the rest of the UK.

The First Minister said North Sea reserves would put the country in a stronger position than the rest of the UK.

He was responding to a report from the Institute of Fiscal Studies which said Scotland's debt, relative to the size of its economy, was not as high as the rest of the UK at present.

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However the think tank warned that, in the long term, dwindling oil revenue would present an independent government with "starker" choices than the rest of the UK.

Mr Salmond, on Government business in Paris, said: "It seems to me the report vindicated what the Scottish Government have been saying, that we are in a much stronger fiscal position at the present moment than the rest of the UK. If you are in a stronger fiscal position, which we are, then you are in a position where you can borrow less and invest more."

Scottish LibDem leader Willie Rennie MSP said: "Alex Salmond had his big Saltire blinkers on."

Meanwhile, Labour hit out at Mr Salmond's claim that an independent Scotland's credit rating would be favourable partly because Finance Secretary John Swinney "achieved zero borrowing" over the past five years.

Labour's Ken Macintosh said: "John Swinney is legally bound to put forward a balanced budget."