How the Scottish Government offered up renewable energy and Scottish public services to Qatari investors
As the Ferret and the Guardian lift the lid on the ways Scottish politicians have sought offshore private financing of public services, the Red Robin can reveal the extraordinary promises made by Alex Salmond during his tour to Qatar in 2011 where he behaved more like a used car salesman than a First Minister.
Following a series of freedom of information Requests, the Red Robin has obtained previously unpublished speeches from Alex Salmond in Qatar. In a roundtable speech in Tornado Toward in Doha, the former First Minister laid out the goldmine on offer for Qatari financiers:
“The next 10 years will offer over £40 billion - over 230 billion Qatari Riyals - in investment opportunities in the Scottish Low Carbon Sector.
Offshore wind needs £30 Billion of investment and the British Wind Energy Association estimates whole life rates of return from 10 to 20 percent.
That’s not investment in speculative bubbles but in solid infrastructural development, supplying what the economy needs most – energy – in a way that is backed by statutory guarantees.
So, in the long term, offshore wind represents an attractive, safe and reliable investment opportunity.”
He concludes by saying that:
“And there are still further opportunities for investment, too many to detail individually.”
And who accompanied the First Minister on this junket? None other than the equity and energy firms who were after the money: Ian Marchant, CEO, Scottish and Southern Energy, Alan Macaskill, from EDP and Repsol and brother of Kenny,, and Peter De Vink, Managing Director at EFGH Corporate Finance. Despite the fact that the public overwhelmingly support public ownership of energy, this scheme would have seen the renewable energy industry divvied up by British companies and foreign investors.
In a later briefing document from 2013 where Humza Yousaf was in Qatar and the UAE, he offered the Qataris ‘investment opportunities’ in Scotland that included vital Scottish public projects and services. Ironically these projects where significant profits will be accrued were a part of the SNP’s disingenuously named Non-Profit Distributing vehicles.
- Three motorways
- Aberdeen Western Peripheral Road
- Kilmarnock College’s New Campus
- Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary
- Royal Hospital for Sick Children and Department of Clinical Neuroscience
- Scottish National Blood Transfusion Service
In aggressively seeking to woo and befriend the Qataris with a view to leveraging investment from them it is clear that they paid no heed to any concerns around human rights abuses.
The ultimate aim of Scottish Government led by Alex Salmond and Humza Yousaf was to deploy various methods and means to win over the Qataris, which would have meant public money for Scottish public services going back as profit to the ruling autocrats in a regime with harsh anti-worker legislation, imprisonment for homosexuality, and execution for —, rather than being invested here.
It is unclear whether the Qataris were persuaded by Humza Yousaf and invested in these Scottish projects. Partly explained because there is no way of knowing who invests in the Special Purpose Vehicles that bring together various private firms to carry out public contracts. And partly because the Scottish Government have never revealed whether their efforts have been successful in getting Qatar or the UAE to invest in Scotland.
What is clear from todays revelations and the Scottish Government activity in Qatar and the UAE is that the neoliberal vision laid out in the SNP Growth Commission isn’t just what Independence would be like under the SNP - it’s what Scotland is like today.
At the time of publication, neither the Scottish Government nor Alex Salmond had responded to our requests for comment.