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Debate on Scottish economy
Finance Secretary John Swinney yesterday set out his plans to give Scotland a clear competitive edge as a place to do business.
During a parliamentary debate on the theme of wealthier and fairer, the Cabinet Secretary outlined how the new Scottish Government will boost economic growth. The debate was closed by Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning.
Among the key proposals are:
- Refocusing and reforming the Enterprise Networks
- Reducing and removing business rates to give small and medium sized Scottish business a competitive tax position
- A Council of Economic Advisers
- Lighter and more effective regulation
- A commitment to creating new, vocational opportunities for young people to flourish personally in education and employment
- A freeze in council tax rates, moving towards legislation to scrap Council Tax and replace it with a local income tax based on ability to pay
Mr Swinney also set a target of raising Scotland's growth rate to the UK level by 2011 and made clear he was committed to working with Parliament to achieve this goal.
Mr Swinney said:
"Our central purpose is to focus government and public services on creating a more successful country, with the opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish through increasing, sustainable economic growth. There is no doubt Scotland can be more successful, that Scots can be wealthier and our nation fairer.
"To achieve our objective we will need to build on Scotland's current undoubted strengths and address those areas of known weaknesses. Above all, we must give Scotland a clear competitive edge.
"We will work closely with Scotland's local authorities to deliver a freeze in council tax rates. But freezing the council tax is only a first step. We will bring forward legislation to scrap the unfair Council Tax.
"This government will act to make Scotland the lowest taxed part of the United Kingdom for small and medium sized businesses. We will remove the burden of business rates for many and reduce it for more.
"Our intention is to refocus and reform the enterprise network. Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise will continue to have the central responsibility for the delivery of the Government's enterprise development strategy. Creating genuine added value and maximising the return from our interventions.
"I believe it is time for a new economic approach for Scotland, built on a shared desire to increase our nation's competitiveness. This debate will inform the development of our New Economic Approach, which will be set out to Parliament and published in full in the Autumn."