AN influential economic think tank has said the Growth Commission report is “an important contribution” to the debate on Scotland’s future.

The Fraser of Allander Institute at Strathclyde University said it outlined some of the opportunities for an independent Scotland but did not shy away from the “tough choices” it would face getting there.

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“But it also represents a challenge to other political parties,” said institute director Dr Graeme Roy.

“They too need to set out their vision for Scotland and how they seek to deliver economic prosperity in the years ahead.”

He said the report was a “substantial body” of work covering finance and currency options, along with the “small country” examples, but the independence proposition would attract most interest.

Although the commission recommended that Scotland retain the pound for an extended period after a vote for independence, Roy said the tone of the commentary suggested that a new currency should be seen as more than a possibility.

“A separate currency comes with opportunities, but also risks,” he said. “In the long-run, many economists will argue that the creation of an independent currency can have its advantages as it provides flexibility to set monetary policy in the interests of the Scottish economy.”

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Scotland would also have to act to address demographic challenges, particularly the issue of its ageing population, added Roy.

“Scotland has a faster ageing population than the rest of the UK. Our population is projected to grow, but more slowly than the UK,” he said.

“Crucially we have a much weaker planned growth in working age population and some forecasts suggest that it will decline.

“If you have fewer working-age people in your economy, your output will be lower. It also means you have fewer people contributing to tax revenues to then fund the public services that we need.

“We know that older people tend to use public services more.

“Understandably, as we get older health costs go up, so you need people of working age paying taxes.

“Most of the evidence we see suggests that immigrants coming into the country tend to be younger, they tend to be better skilled relatively and more likely to be in employment.

“So, from an economic perspective the case for migration is strong, particularly in the Scottish case because we need that growth ... but that’s an issue irrespective of the constitutional settlement.