Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Scottish Government Sets out Economic Priorities following Reshuffle

31/05/2016 - The Scottish Government has recently announced its new Cabinet, which has the economy as one of its key priorities.

Keith Brown has taken up the newly created post of Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Jobs and Fair Work and Derek Mackay has been appointed as Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Constitution. The economy will also be at the centre of Fergus Ewing’s remit as he takes up the post of Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity.

Ahead of a parliamentary debate held on Tuesday 31 May, Keith Brown stated:

“Despite uncertain global conditions, and falling oil prices, our economy has continued to grow over the last year. This demonstrates that the fundamentals of our economy remain strong, but I am clear that we must substantially build on this position to help our firms and our people reach their full potential”.

“Today I will set out our plan to make Scotland a more productive country through innovation, investment, internationalisation and inclusive growth. At the heart of our actions will be a clear and unrelenting focus on creating a competitive and supportive business environment. I will listen carefully to constructive ideas about how we can support our economic growth put forward by MSPs from across the Chamber during the debate.

We can see the benefits of this already, as Scotland continues to be a very attractive location for business growth and inward investment. Just last week the Ernst and Young Attractiveness Survey ranked Scotland second to London for FDI across the UK, creating over 5,300 jobs in 2015. That is why we’ll aim to raise productivity and prosperity through the traditional drivers of investment in infrastructure, skills and innovation.

My appointment as a dedicated Cabinet Secretary for the economy should send a clear signal of this Government’s focus on stimulating growth, protecting and creating jobs and promoting Scotland as a great place to do business.”

In the debate, the Conservatives will call for changes to be made to the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT), which has replaced stamp duty on property sales in Scotland.
The party's finance spokesman Murdo Fraser will insist charges have been set too high, causing "a slowdown in the housing market at the upper ends, and a decline in tax revenues".

But he will say that "even a minor tweak could end the stagnation and bring in more, much needed, tax revenue".

Meanwhile, Green MSP John Finnie will call for more investment in decommissioning, renewables and energy efficiency programmes to counter the challenges faced by the oil and gas sector.

He said: "The decline of the oil and gas sector must be met with a managed transition to new industries rather than ever deeper tax cuts to encourage the extraction of resources that are ultimately unburnable.

"By investing now in viable alternatives such as decommissioning, renewables and energy efficient housing, we can transfer workers' skills and provide the long-term stability local economies across urban and rural Scotland need."

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