May 28 - As a vote on Scottish independence approaches, both sides put their economic cards on the table. As Ivor Bennett reports the figures put forward by those in favour are hotly disputed by those against.
It was billed as a pivotal moment in the debate over Scottish independence. But if voters were hoping for a clearer picture, they may be disappointed. It seems this wasn't a day for definitive answers on how an independent Scotland would fair financially. Rather a day of opposite extremes. First up Scottish First minister Alex Salmond. SOUNDBITE (English) ALEX SALMOND, SCOTTISH FIRST MINISTER, SAYING: "Over a period of 15 years, we can make Scotland a more prosperous society. That's an infinitely more credible argument than the figures assembled by the Treasury which have then been subsequently dismantled. People want to hear a positive vision of the future, not negative scaremongering." His vision is certainly positive: claiming independence will be worth an extra 5 billion pounds a year by 2030. But it comes with strings attached. Namely upping employment, productivity and population. Possible? SOUNDBITE (English) IVOR BENNETT, REUTERS REPORTER, SAYING: "Not according to those south of the border, where the economy has become a central issue of the no campaign. Westminster produced it's own a fiscal outlook for an independent Scotland today, and it couldn't be more different." Barely an hour later, and just up the road, the verdict came from the UK's Deputy Finance Minister, Danny Alexander. SOUNDBITE (English) DANNY ALEXANDER, UK DEPUTY FINANCE MINISTER, SAYING: "By staying together, Scotland's future will be safer, with stronger finances and a more progressive society. Because as a United Kingdom we can pool resources and share risks. It means a UK dividend of 1,400 pounds a year for every man, woman and child in Scotland." According to the Treasury, an ageing population is Scotland's achilles heel. predicting a higher tax burden, made worse by low immigration. Differing forecasts for oil receipts explain much of the discrepancy between outlooks. Along with the price of setting up a new administration. Westminster claims it'll cost Scottish taxpayers over 1.5 billion pounds. Estimates rubbished by Salmond and the SNP. Richard Hunter of Hargreaves Lansdown. SOUNDBITE (English) RICHARD HUNTER, HEAD OF EQUITIES, HARGREAVES LANSDOWN, SAYING: "I suspect that Alex Salmond, who's obviously driving the Scottish debate, will want someone to underline exactly which figures are the accurate ones because clearly they will have a major impact on what happens with the vote." Voters still have 4 months to make up their minds. Latest polls suggest up to 20 percent are still undecided.