Help for communities to invest in green energy and a refreshed oil and gas strategy form part of the Scottish Government’s new economic plans.
Having reduced the productivity gap with the rest of the UK, the ambition of ministers is to see Scotland match the productivity levels of the strongest European economies.
The government’s new economic strategy focuses on four main themes: investing in people, innovation, inclusive growth and internationalisation.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the strategy reinforced her long-term vision for an economy based on the principle that by becoming a fairer society, Scotland will have a more productive and fairer economy.
And she also revealed a major shift in the government’s policy on corporation tax.
Her predecessor Alex Salmond promised a 3% cut in corporation tax if Scotland became independent. The new economic strategy proposed “targeted changes in tax allowances” to boost investment in areas like R&D and encourage investment in growth sectors rather than a “blanket approach”.
While corporation tax is still reserved to Westminster, the Scottish Government has argued for it to be devolved to Holyrood, with the new strategy document arguing power over it and other measures such as capital gains tax could be used to help rebalance the economy.
Ms Sturgeon said: “By taking action to increase exports, build on our historic reputation for innovation, invest in infrastructure from child care facilities to broadband and create more inclusive growth through fair work we can take Scotland’s economic competitiveness to the next level.”
The economic strategy includes £10million next year through the Local Energy Investment Fund to invest on behalf of communities in renewable energy schemes and publishing a refreshed oil and gas strategy with a “strong focus” on the structure and capability of the supply chain.
The government is proposing a Scottish Business Development Bank to work with SMEs and the financial markets support businesses with high growth potential.
To take advantage of international opportunities the government plans to develop a new trade and investment strategy establish “One Scotland Partnerships” which set clear goals for specific markets.