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Oil and gas mask isles’ public sector decline

SHETLAND has one of the healthiest economies in Scotland with a predicted growth of 6.4 per cent over the next three years, according to Inverness-based economist Tony Mackay.

Between 2012 and 2014 only Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire local authority areas are expected to outperform the isles with a growth rate of 6.8 per cent, the analyst said on Thursday.

The main drivers, he said, are the North Sea oil and gas industries, which are enjoying a boom thanks to the high price of oil.

Mr MacKay predicts the overall Scottish economy will grow by 4.8 per cent over the next three years – 0.7 per cent in 2012, 1.8 per cent in 2013 and 2.3 per cent in 2014.

The forecast of economic growth was welcomed by SIC development committee chairman Alastair Cooper, who stressed that the local economy would be even stronger if were not for public sector cutbacks.

“I can envisage the growth Mr Mackay is speaking about given Total’s activity in Shetland, and given the fact that BP at Sullom Voe Terminal is looking at putting new kit into the facility at significant cost,” he said.

“I think the prospects for the oil industry around here are very good. Having said that we also have to recognise the fact that local government and health will be contracting over the next four years with much tighter budgets and to some extent that will mask the real growth that could be in the real economy.

“With the seafood sector also doing well I think we have a lot to look forward to, but we need to balance that with the public sector reductions,” he said.

In comparison, Orkney’s economy is forecast to grow by only 4.1 per cent over the next three years, caused mainly by the reduced throughput of the Flotta oil terminal.

 

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