Douglas Ross has revealed exclusively to the ChamberTalk podcast that the Energy Profits Levy (EPL) - the windfall tax on oil and gas companies - is "on the agenda" ahead of March's budget.

The Scottish Conservative leader - appearing on the second episode of Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce's new podcast - said he has "constant discussions" with the chancellor about EPL.

He added that "there will always be more opportunities" to change the levy.

Earlier this month, HM Treasury confirmed its intention to inflation-adjust the price floor at which companies no longer have to pay the additional levy.

Douglas Ross sat down with Chamber journalist Finlay Jack and Chamber chief executive Russell Borthwick.

Douglas Ross sat down with Chamber journalist Finlay Jack and Chamber chief executive Russell Borthwick.

However with the price floor unlikely to ever be triggered, North Sea companies would be expected to pay the 75% tax rate until 2028.

"You've outlined some of the changes and there can and will, I'm sure, always be more opportunities to do that," Mr Ross said.

"I've spoken to the chancellor about this and we had a discussion around the (price) floor as well. I think it was Gareth Davis, his first day in office, when he announced some of the changes.

"I have constant discussions about this, I understand the motivations for introducing it, I understand the problems that are still being experienced and I think it's important that we continue to do whatever we can, within the tight fiscal framework that the chancellor has to deal with, and competing pressures from elsewhere, to see what more we can do to support the industry.

"It's an absolute assurance that it has been discussed with the chancellor in the past, Andrew (Bowie) and David (Duguid) are always raising these issues.

"I've got another meeting coming up with the chancellor ahead of the spring budget, and it's (EPL) on the agenda for that as well."

A banded approach?

One alternative to a blanket 75% tax rate is a banded, income tax-style approach to taxing windfall profits.

"I think it's definitely something that's got merit to be looked at," Mr Ross said.

He continued: "Particularly because there is some buy in - and it's not universal - but there is some buy in from the companies themselves. I think that can and should be considered.

"I also think we've got to get away from this a narrative that some politicians say these companies are making huge profits. A lot of these profits are not here. They are their global profits, not their UK or Scottish profits.

"Sometimes, I think we have to challenge some of the narrative coming from other people who I think are actually talking down the industry."

The full episode of ChamberTalk with Douglas Ross is available to listen to on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and YouTube.

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