SNP conference

Yousaf to ask bond market to fund infrastructure

Humza Yousaf: ‘these are the early days of a better nation’

SNP leader Humza Yousaf intends to go directly to the international bond market for the first time to raise funds for vital infrastructure.

The country’s first ever bond “will bring Scotland to the attention of investors across the world,” he told the party’s annual conference. “And it will raise our profile as a place where investment returns can be made.

“In doing so, we will show the world not only that we are a country to invest in today.

“We will also demonstrate the credibility to international markets that we will need when we become an independent country.”

It is intended that the bond will be issued by 2026, towards the end of the current parliament, and the funds raised will be directed to projects such as affordable housing.

Scottish ministers have had the power to borrow £450 million a year, up to a total of £3 billion, to pay for infrastructure projects, since 2015.

Mr Yousaf told delegates that the SNP “is delivering for the people for Scotland today and brick by brick – institution by institution – we are laying the foundations for what will be our newly independent state.

“We are truly living in the early days of a better nation.”

Mr Yousaf, who has been on the back foot following a series of setbacks and a slump in the polls, promised a council tax freeze, £100m more to ease hospital waiting lists and help for the north east economy.

He doubled down on his his party’s commitment to independence, claiming the Tories were finished and that “the closer he [Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer ] gets to Downing Street, the further he retreats from his principles.”

Among his newly announced measures, he said the Scottish Government will invest up to £500 million to anchor a new offshore wind supply chain in Scotland.

He said it would be a catalyst for additional private investment in Scotland’s ports and harbours, supporting inward investment and encouraging domestic companies to seek new opportunities.

Responding to recent electoral setbacks, he said: “A couple of weeks ago, we had a tough night in the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election. We can either spend time feeling sorry for ourselves. Or we can take another course of action.

“Let me tell you what that is. We roll up our sleeves and we work harder than ever before for the people of Scotland. That is how I am going to lead this party forward.

“It starts by standing by our values. Sticking up for what we believe in. And always, every day, standing up for the people of Scotland.

He reminded delegates of the record of Nicola Sturgeon’s “social contract with the people” and gave a further indication that income taxes will rise to help him fight poverty.

“A contract that says, yes, those who earn the most, should pay the most. But a social contract, in which everyone benefits – regardless of wealth,” he said.

He listed a number of policies that he was proud to have been announced by the SNP, including nationalisation of rail, abolition of prescription charges, making sure Scottish NHS staff are the best paid in the UK and making sure there are more teachers and higher spending per pupil than anywhere in the UK.

The council tax freeze surprised the local authority umbrella group Cosla which said it had not been given warning of the announcement.

Comment: Aspiring statesman with a sting in his tail

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