The Scottish Government is pro-business and pro-prosperity, the Finance Secretary has said, as MSPs debated the future of Scotland’s economy.
Kate Forbes sought to emphasise the Scottish Government’s business-friendly credentials during the debate at Holyrood.
The Scottish Conservatives said the SNP and their Government partners, the Scottish Greens, had conflicting views on the role of business and economic growth.
The role of GDP measurements and the concepts of sustainable growth were explicitly excluded from the SNP-Green cooperation agreement signed in August.
MSPs debated the economic aspects of the Programme for Government on Wednesday afternoon.
The Finance Secretary said: “We want to create a pro-prosperity, pro-business and pro-jobs environment, which fosters entrepreneurship and makes Scotland an even more attractive place for investors.
“We can stimulate business growth by investing in our people and expanding opportunities, and we can also do it with well-paid, fair jobs, fast securing a just transition to net-zero.”
She said the Government was due to publish a 10-year plan for economic transformation in late autumn.
Ms Forbes added: “I’m in no doubt that an innovative and entrepreneurial private sector is essential to support a wellbeing economy, and is essential to delivering this Programme for Government.”
Speaking for the Scottish Conservatives in the debate, Liz Smith said businesses wanted stability and a long-term strategy from the Government.
GDP and GNP remain the “most important internationally recognised measures” of national economies, she said.
Ms Smith said: “Why on Earth do you go into coalition with a party that is fundamentally opposed to (growth) as a priority?
“That will be a tension that will continue to dominate the coalition for however long that lasts.”
Ms Smith referred to comments made by Professor Mark Blyth, one of the Scottish Government’s economic advisors.
She said: “He’s warning that independence upheaval will be ‘Brexit times 10’.
“I think that view is shared by a lot in the Scottish business community and indeed the public.”
Scottish Labour’s finance spokesman Daniel Johnson claimed the Scottish Government was more comfortable with “a constitutional circus than the seriousness demanded by economic recovery”.
He went on to question the impact the Scottish Greens can have on policy as a result of their deal with the SNP, which saw co-leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater given ministerial office, by pointing to reports on Wednesday that plans for a public energy company had been dropped.
“It’s clear that any influence the Greens could have had has been sold out for ministerial job titles without any ministerial influence,” he said.
Lib Dem finance spokesman and former leader, Willie Rennie, focused on his opposition to independence.
He said the recovery from the economic impact of the pandemic would take a long time, and should therefore be the focus of the Government.
“I think this recovery is going to take a very long time to secure,” he said.
“It’s going to take a long time to recover from this pandemic, I think it would be reckless to pursue independence in the process.”
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