16 May 2013
Green MSPs are urging the Scottish Government to recall its grant funding of Amazon UK following news of its 0.1% tax rate in the last financial year despite UK sales of £4.3 billion.
A briefing provided to MSPs visiting Amazon’s Dunfermline centre earlier this year showed that the Scottish Government has offered up to £10.6m to the company in funding, far more than the £2.4m paid by the company in corporation tax in 2012/13.*
The Greens want to see the public grants and procurement system reformed so that companies’ tax record can be taken into account before public funds are given out.**
Alison Johnstone, Scottish Green MSP said:
“Amazon clearly have absolutely no intention of playing fair when paying tax but are happy to take millions from the public purse in Scotland. The latest revelations should prompt the Scottish Government to urgently end its handouts and demand a complete refund.
“It is quite incredible that Scottish Ministers still think that writing big cheques to Amazon is a good use of public money. That lost tax income and grant funding could completely transform the small business sector, providing secure jobs to more people. Amazon are shameless but the Scottish Government must take a stand.
“We need far stricter rules on companies getting public money so that their record on tax or use of zero-hours contracts can be taken into account. Public money should be used to support the high standards we want more of in Scotland.”
*A briefing to MSPs on the Economy committee by Scottish Enterprise in February contained the following figures: £4.3m offered in RSA and training awards, £6.3m made available through SE Scottish Property Support Scheme for the Dunfermline building
**Alison Johnstone questioned John Swinney on Amazon’s tax avoidance and the issue of zero-hours contracts at the Economy committee. Page 8 of this Official Report:
15 May 2013
Alison Johnstone, Green MSP for Lothian and fisheries spokesperson for the Scottish Greens, is warning against celebrating a deal struck in Brussels by EU fisheries ministers on the issue of discards.
“It’s too early to celebrate this deal. It still allows for a lot of fish to be dumped dead overboard. And while devolving some control to regional level makes sense we must ensure we follow the science.
“If we want sustainable fisheries that support our economy without wrecking the environment we need bold reform and I’m not persuaded we have that yet. If the European parliament agrees this deal it will be a small step in the right direction but the fight will go on.”
Campaign group Oceana says this is a “weak discard ban that still allows a substantial amount of waste”.
15 May 2013
Alison Johnstone, Green MSP for Lothian and a member of Holyrood’s economy committee, is welcoming the latest jobs figures but is calling for action on underemployment and zero-hours contracts.
Employment in Scotland increased by 54,000 between January and March this year while unemployment fell to 199,000.
Alison Johnstone said:
“While the headline figures are welcome we must not lose sight of the underlying problem of underemployment. There are still too many people who want to work more hours but the work isn’t available.
“We must also crack down on so-called zero hours contracts, which mask the fact that some people in employment have no idea how much money they’ll get in their pay packet. I continue to urge the Scottish Government to look at barring companies who use these contracts from getting public money.”
14 May 2013
As members of the PCS public services union stage a fresh strike over pay and pensions, Green MSP Patrick Harvie is urging SNP ministers to show a different approach to the UK Coalition.
Union members will rally outside the Scottish Parliament tomorrow (15 May) and the Scottish Greens will once more show support for strong public services by refusing to cross the picket line.
Patrick Harvie, Green MSP for Glasgow, said:
“SNP ministers are maintaining a real terms pay cut for workers delivering the public services we all depend on. They like to blame cuts from Westminster but the truth is they have the power to take a different approach.
“PCS members fighting for fair treatment can be assured of the support of the Scottish Greens. I hope MSPs from other parties consider joining us in taking a principled stand on this important issue.”
14 May 2013
Alison Johnstone, Green MSP for Lothian and a member of Holyrood’s economy committee, is urging the UK Government to consider breaking up the Royal Bank of Scotland in light of continuing massive bonuses and links to environmental destruction.
The taxpayer-backed bank faces shareholder rebellion at today’s AGM in Edinburgh over £607 million of staff bonuses despite losses of £5.2 billion.
Meanwhile RBS has been named as the world’s seventh-biggest financial backer of mountaintop removal. It has invested hundreds of millions of pounds in US companies which have used explosives to extract coal from over 500 mountains in recent years.
“It seems RBS have learned nothing from the crash. While it’s right they rebuild so we can recoup some of the cash we gave them it’s wrong of them to continue with a grossly inappropriate pay and perks structure.
“They say they encourage ‘corporate responsibility’ among clients involved in trashing the environment. What a load of meaningless jargon.
“The public owns this bank and if the Government had any common sense it would look at breaking it up, redirecting its energies to support small businesses, reflecting the public’s needs and aspirations. Sadly the UK Coalition is so in thrall to the City any change would be glacially slow and microscopic in scale.”
13 May 2013
Green MSP Alison Johnstone – a qualified athletics coach and former competitive runner – is backing the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games ticketing strategy.
Two-thirds of tickets will be priced at £25 or less with half-price concessions for children. The price of a ticket will also include use of public transport.
Alison, a member of Holyrood’s cross-party group on sport and Green MSP for Lothian, said:
“I welcome these ticketing arrangements for Glasgow 2014, which are more fairly priced than the Olympics. It’s important as Scotland prepares to welcome the world we don’t forget to make the Games as accessible as possible for all Scots.
“The sheer excitement of being at world-class events undoubtedly inspires. We must make sure once we’ve cheered on fellow Scots we have facilities and training programmes that capture that enthusiasm. We want a legacy that isn’t purely ticket stubs.”