Scotland seeks out ways to beat recession

By , Special to The Christian Science Monitor

Scotland is playing a significant role in Britain's effort to pull itself out of the worst recession since the 1930s.

In one approach, the new chief of the Scottish Highlands and Islands Board is embarking on a campaign to increase public and private investment in north Scotland.

Along a different line, a group of local authority representatives have proposed at European Community headquarters in Brussels that the community give Scottish northern communities large-scale aid to help combat widespread unemployment.

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Southern Italy and west Ireland have been receiving substantial EC assistance for development projects, and it is felt that Scotland could be given around (STR)200 million ($360 million) in grants in the next few years.

EC aid to Scotland last year included (STR)14 million for factory construction. One idea being discussed in the Highlands is that the North of Scotland Hydroelectric Board resume building hydro stations and windmills, projects that would quickly provide several thousand construction jobs and cut the cost of electricity for new industries.

Major investment schemes are being planned by Scottish Financial Trust to revive or boost parts of Scotland's commerce, including the expanding electronic and computers sectors.

An interesting development in computer use is the South of Scotland Electricity Board's instant meter-reading machine. The lightweight machine, hand-carried and linked with a master computer at board headquarters, produces an on-the-spot account for consumers and is expected to encourage large savings in clerical work for the public power agency.

The manufacturers of the instant meter reader are hoping to export large numbers of the device to the United States.

Another valuable export for Britain is the Costain Group's (STR)100 million ( one of several large recent orders placed in Britain for Nigeria's developing water-supply system.

But some economic experts say Britain should be selling oil-rich Nigeria many more products. Britain has a surplus of fishing vessels and a capacity for building trawlers that could be useful for Africa's expanding population.

A recent conference here, supported by the World Bank and International Development Agency, has encouraged Scottish firms to develop links with overseas aid programs and third-world development projects. Scotland continues many links developed with countries in the old British Empire, and some Scots companies are expanding trade with Commonwealth nations.

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