Alexander put his case for Scots to oppose independence in a referendum of September 18, shortly after Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond said an independent Scotland's public finances would be at least as strong as the rest of the United Kingdom's.

"By staying together, Scotland's future will be safer, with stronger finances and a more progressive society," Alexander said. "It means a UK dividend of 1,400 pounds a year for every man, woman and child in Scotland."

Salmond said that if Scotland had full powers to run its economy without interference from London, it would be 5 billion pounds a year richer by 2030 - something Alexander dismissed as a "bogus bonus".

"They're desperately trying to distract attention from that fundamental question ... that there simply wouldn't be the same level of resources available for public services if Scotland were independent," Alexander said.

Scotland would have a net fiscal deficit of 2.8 percent of gross domestic product in 2016-17, similar to the 2.5-3.2 percent range his Edinburgh administration estimated in November, based on Scotland taking a share of the United Kingdom's public debt equivalent to its population, said Salmond on Wednesday.

This is close to the 2.4 percent that Britain's Office for Budget Responsibility estimates is likely for the United Kingdom as a whole, and lower than what Salmond said Britain would borrow if the opposition Labour Party wins a UK-wide election in May 2015.

"This analysis shows that on all headline measures of the public finances, Scotland's fiscal position is forecast to be stronger than or at the very least level with the UK position,"Salmond said.

Scottish nationalists differ sharply with anti-independence campaigners on likely future tax revenue from North Sea oil, as well as whether an independent Scotland would be able to boost productivity and slow the ageing of Scotland's population.

(Reuters, VoR)