KATE Forbes has insisted her Government is “pro-prosperity, pro-business and pro-jobs” to try and allay growing fears her administration’s partner’s are “actively hostile” to economic growth.
The SNP Finance and Economy Secretary set out her party’s proposals to kickstart an economic recovery to MSPs following its Programme for Government announcement on Tuesday, stressing that “Scotland remains a great place to start, to develop, to locate and grow a business”.
She added: “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.”
Ms Forbes added this can also be achieved by “well-paid and fair jobs whilst securing a just transition to net zero”.
The Finance Secretary highlighted £500 million over the next five years to create jobs and improve skills – pointing to a £70 million fund to develop the young person’s guarantee and £20 million for a national transition train fund.
She raised a 10-year strategy for economic transformation that will be published later this year, which Ms Forbes insisted will “deliver the long-term transformational change that we need to build a sustainable, fairer, more inclusive economy”.
But despite Ms Forbes insisting the Scottish Government wants to foster economic growth, opponents have jumped on the stance of the Scottish Greens, now in power with the SNP, who do not recognise economic growth.
The Greens do not believe GDP should be used as an economic indicator and have been excluded from influencing the Scottish Government’s position on that and any economic growth strategy as part of the agreement with the SNP.
The Greens Maggie Chapman told MSPs “we want our economy to serve society” adding it “must be based on care, credibility and cooperation, not driven by the profit motive”.
She added: “The current economic shock of the pandemic has demonstrated the failings of conventional economics and the pursuit of endless economic growth.
“We understand that mathematically, never mind ethically, you cannot have infinite growth in a finite system without that system collapsing.”
Scottish Conservative finance and economy spokesperson, Liz Smith, warned that the public and businesses want the “primary focus to be on economic recovery from the pandemic”, adding that without “strong economic growth…we all suffer”.
She added: “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.
“When it comes to the Greens, it really is the Greens against the business world.”
Tory Covid recovery spokesperson Murdo Fraser added that the SNP has appointed as ministers two Green politicians “who are actively hostile to the principle of economic growth”.