SCOTLAND must “ruthlessly and relentlessly” create an entrepreneurial culture to deliver greater economic prosperity over the next decade, Kate Forbes has said.

The Finance Secretary made the assertion at the launch of the Scottish Government’s National Strategy for Economic Transformation at the Michelin Scotland Innovation Parc in Dundee on Tuesday.

The strategy identified five economic areas which have the “greatest potential to transform Scotland”, which Forbes said will focus on growth, reducing poverty and making the country fairer.

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The policy was previewed in The National’s one million pro-independence paper push, in collaboration with the SNP and Believe in Scotland, which were distributed to homes across Scotland in November last year.

Speaking at the strategy launch in Dundee, Forbes said it would help ensure the Scottish economy “outperforms the last decade, both in terms of economic performance and tackling structural economic inequalities”.

The in-depth strategy contains 6 programmes, 18 projects and 77 actions set out by the Scottish Government.

From the summer, all government grants will require recipients to pay all staff at least the living wage and include “effective” employee representation.

The strategy will see the creation of an “investor panel” led by the First Minister to raise funds for net zero projects, with Forbes urging businesses to “seize the opportunity” to transition away from carbon-emitting practices.

Forbes said: “This strategy clarifies our vision, it identifies the building blocks of success and it reforms the public landscape to focus ruthlessly and relentlessly on delivery.

The National:

Forbes launched the strategy in Dundee on Tuesday

“We all know the challenges of our day – the short term and the long term – but challenge is nothing new.

“Indeed, it has been through the tumultuous times of the past, whether a global pandemic or an industrial revolution, that Scotland has excelled.

“These are the times when we have pioneered solutions, created jobs and established highly successful businesses.

“So the opportunities ahead – yes, the opportunities of decarbonisation, disruptive new technologies and transitioning industries – these opportunities far outweigh the challenges.

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“This is a unique moment and we are ready, willing and able to lead the way, and ensure Scotland capitalises on the opportunity.

“We must create the conditions to generate significant, systemic change; we must be bold and ruthless and laser-focused to maximise the impact of the actions we have identified.

Following the launch of the strategy, STUC general secretary Roz Foyer – a member of the government’s advisory board – said the policy was merely “paying lip service” to building a wellbeing economy.

Asked about the criticism from the STUC, Forbes told the PA news agency she “immensely appreciated (Foyer’s) constructive input over the course of the development of the strategy”.

Forbes said: “I respect her desire to push us as hard as possible.

The National:

“Across the strategy we were committed to improving economic outcomes and raising the standard of living, so you will see a renewed focus on ensuring that we have fairness at the heart of everything we do.

“I think the most radical and bold parts of this strategy is that it focuses on not only economic outcomes, and economic growth, but also on reducing poverty and building a fairer Scotland.

“We know in Scotland that as we emerge from the pandemic, as we’ve come through Brexit, we have huge strengths and great opportunities – particularly with the just transition.

“In order to capitalise on those opportunities, for example with renewables or offshore wind, we also need to be creating fair work, and fair work directly brings households and families out of poverty.”

In a statement after the launch, Foyer said: “The National Strategy for Economic Transformation has a sprinkling of good ideas and we have successfully argued for some strong lines on the importance of fair work, decent pay and the role of trade unions, but, overall, it is a missed opportunity to address the challenges before us and make real, transformational change.”

Ewan MacDonald-Russell, head of policy for the Scottish Retail Consortium, welcomed the commitments made for a retail strategy.

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He said: “However, retailers would have liked to see greater clarity on what steps are going to be taken to keep down the cost of doing business. To successfully transform Scotland’s economy to be fit for a net zero future will require investment from both government and businesses.”

Andrew McRae, chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) in Scotland, said he would urge the Scottish Government to “continue to listen to those who run local businesses”.

He added: “For many of these operators spiralling overheads combined with Covid-related debt means that a long-term outlook just doesn’t feel possible. Helping these firms weather the ongoing storm must be a key priority for the Scottish Government.”

Scottish Conservative finance spokeswoman Liz Smith said it was a “thin and underwhelming collection of platitudes”.

She added: “It has some lofty aspirations with far too few concrete plans for delivering economic growth.”