Scotland to sell bonds for first time, Yousaf says

Humza Yousaf

Scotland’s First Minister Humza Yousaf told the SNP Conference in Aberdeen that Scotland is to go directly to the international bond market for the first time in its own right.

Bonds are the normal form of borrowing for governments around the world.

The First Minister said that to fund vital infrastructure like affordable housing projects “we will issue Scotland’s first ever bond.”

Announcing what he called “our most ambitious proposal yet” Yousaf said: “I can confirm that by the end of this parliament the SNP Government will – subject of course to due diligence and market testing – go directly to the international bond market for the first time in our own right.

“To fund vital infrastructure like affordable housing projects, we will issue Scotland’s first ever bond.

“This will bring Scotland to the attention of investors across the world.

“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.”

In a separate statement, the Scottish Government said the First Minister has commissioned initial work including due diligence assessments with the aim of making the bonds available to the market by the end of the current parliamentary session.

Steps will include “undertaking detailed analysis to ensure value for money can be achieved and further consideration of the potential investment opportunities in Scotland.”

The First Minister added: “Scotland has a wealth of investment opportunities.

“Issuing a bond will help raise Scotland’s profile and engagement with international investors to attract investment.

“This will be a first for the Scottish Government and is a significant undertaking. The next steps will involve the commissioning of detailed analysis and necessary due diligence.

“Subject to the successful completion of that process, the first bond will issue by the end of this parliamentary session.

“This is an exciting opportunity to use the powers we already have to invest in infrastructure for Scotland’s future.

“That investment in infrastructure is key to supporting the three priorities I have outlined for the Scottish Government over the next three years – delivering high quality public services, boosting a green and thriving economy and ensuring equality of opportunity for everyone.”

The Scottish Government said the Scotland Act 2016 devolved powers to Scotland to allow the issuing of government bonds for capital investment.

It said that following the review of the fiscal framework, the Scottish Government’s capital borrowing limits will increase with inflation from their current levels of £450 million per annum and £3 billion cumulatively.

In 2017, Aberdeen City Council launched a successful £370 million bond issue.

The bond issue was oversubscribed and was a first for a Scottish council.

The £370 million was used to support a £1 billion capital programme for the city.