China may invest £10bn in Scotland as Scottish Government publishes investment agreement
Nicola Sturgeon’s talks on Chinese ‘PFI’ investment published by Scottish Government
Details of discussions between First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and representatives of a Chinese consortium last month have been published after criticism the Scottish Government had “kept quiet” about them.
The Memorandum of Understanding signed by the First Minister as well as Dr Peter Zhang and Sir Richard Heygate, representatives of SinoFortone Group and China Railway No.3 Engineering Group respectively, reveals how Chinese money could pay for infrastructure projects in Scotland.
Housing, energy, business and transport could all see Chinese investment in Scotland, according to the document, in a deal which would be “potentially mutually beneficial”.
The document suggests preliminary talks had already taken place after Nicola Sturgeon visited China last year. The memorandum says it “is intended as a statement of intent and a platform to share confidential information, not a binding legal agreement”.
It is thought China’s consul-general to Scotland Pan Xinchun was also present at the talks.
The deal was signed on 21 March but was not officially announced, even though election purdah – when authorities are prevented from making announcements – had not yet begun.
However, reports emerged in the Chinese press. Sturgeon told them: "We have high hopes for Scotland's economy and it is in a strong position, but if we can drive further growth by looking beyond our shores and building relationships with firms across the world then we will seek to make that happen."
This prompted opposition parties to ask why details had not been published in Scotland.
The document was then posted on the Scottish Government website on Sunday night.
A spokesperson for the First Minister said she was “more than happy” for the information to be in the public domain.
“Once again opposition parties are ignoring reality to make up their own version of events,” the spokesperson told BBC Scotland.
Labour’s Neil Findlay said the deal represented “PFI” private finance for public services, something he claimed the SNP had also been pursuing from Qatar.
“The bottom line in these deals is the SNP Government are selling opportunities for private investment in public assets in Scotland,” he told Holyrood.
“These assets will be owned and operated by the investors. This is the same government who at times rightly criticised PFI deals but who are now replicated them under their NPD [non-profit distributing] project”
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