May 26, 2022

Kate Forbes’ comments came after the UK and Scottish governments issued a joint statement agreeing that Scotland would have two “green free ports”.

Ports will be special economic zones that offer businesses tax breaks and free tariffs.

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But Scottish Greens, a partner in the SNP government, has in a row criticized the move to give tax breaks and public money to multinational companies, which Scotland Office Minister Ian Stewart called a “lover’s quarrel”.

Scottish Finance Secretary Kate Forbes insists the implementation of the Green Free Port in Scotland will be fair, despite criticism from Scottish Greens (Photo: Jane Barlow).

Greens International Development spokesman Ross Greer called the plans a “corporate gift” and a source of “greenwashing.”

The Green Free Port has been excluded from the cooperation agreement reached between the Greens and the SNP.

The announcement coincided with Boris Johnson’s visit to Rosette in Fife on Monday morning – a site seen as a contender for the free port.

Mr Johnson denied that the plans were merely investment and job displacement, saying: “If you look at the attitude of the Scottish Government, this is fantastic. I think they have a point. And they can see the benefits of free port.

“I am not allowed to give places, but they can create a really large number of jobs and promotions.”

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Greens split with SNP over two ‘Green Free Port’ projects

The Scottish Government was initially opposed to Freeport, but Ms Forbes said four things had changed since the initial disagreement.

Speaking to the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland, the finance secretary said: “The first is that we will have an equal say in the decision, so we are moving forward on the basis of an equal partnership.

“Second, we will get full, fair funding. Funding for the Green Freeport has doubled from a few months ago.

“Third, at the heart of the Green Free Port approach are decarbonization projects.

“And finally, and most importantly for us, fair work will be at its heart. It will be a fair act.”

Mr Stewart said he agreed with the Prime Minister that ports would have a “transformational effect” across the UK.

He said the projects are expected to generate an additional 25 billion in economic activity.

“This is part of our long-term vision of the economy, especially as we look to recover from the epidemic,” he said.

“A free port in England has already been announced and the decision on a free port in Scotland will be made jointly by the two governments.

“Some levers have moved to Scotland and that is why we have had good talks with the Scottish Government.

“If it’s a Valentine’s Day fight between the Greens and the SNP, it’s not for me to get involved.”

Mr Stewart said Freeport would be subject to annual audits and high standards for dealing with any possibility of fraudulent activity.

All applicants for the free port will have to state how they intend to implement fair working practice, including real wages, with bids starting next month.

Ms Forbes said she hopes Greenport will be operational by the end of this year.

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