A PLAN to create a national investment bank in Scotland has taken a "significant step" after legislation was published to enable the move.

The Scottish National Investment Bank (SNIB) Bill was introduced to Holyrood on Wednesday and grants the powers required to establish the bank.

It is expected the bank, which will be a public limited company, will provide financing for businesses and important infrastructure projects in order to boost private sector investment.

Ministers will be given the power to guide its strategic direction by setting missions that will address socio-economic challenges.

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Economy Secretary Derek Mackay said: "Today's Bill marks a significant step towards the establishment of the SNIB.

"The bank will become a cornerstone in Scotland's economic architecture supporting businesses across all stages of the business growth lifecycle, in addition to financing infrastructure to secure private sector investment.

"These steps will ensure we are delivering for the economy of today and ready to seize the opportunities of the future.

"With record low unemployment and further economic growth, we will continue to do all we can to stimulate the economy."

An investment of £2 billion over 10 years has been committed by the Scottish Government to capitalise the bank, which is due to be in operation by 2020.

Strategic adviser to the First Minister on the SNIB, Benny Higgins, said: "Today we mark another important milestone on the path to the creation of the SNIB.

"The bank will play a critical role in ensuring that the Scottish economy is structurally fit for thriving in the 21st century.

"To do so effectively, it is essential that the bank pursues close collaboration with the enterprise agencies and other parties that contribute to the well-being of the Scottish economy."

CBI Scotland director Tracy Black added: "The introduction of the SNIB Bill is welcome news for the Scottish business community.

"If used effectively, the SNIB could have a transformative impact by encouraging the greater patient capital investment needed to support infrastructure development in the long-term and catalyse private sector investment."