Scottish Economy

Dennis Robertson (Aberdeenshire West) (SNP): To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking to strengthen and grow the economy. (S4O-03484)

The Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Employment and Sustainable Growth (John Swinney): The Scottish economy is continuing to strengthen and grow. Scottish gross domestic product grew by 2.6 per cent in the year to quarter 1 of 2014 and has passed its pre-recession peak. As the chief economist’s recent assessment of the state of the economy points out, the underlying data and trends indicate that 2014 will be Scotland’s strongest year of growth since 2007. Furthermore, last week’s labour market figures show that Scottish employment has increased to the highest level on record.

The Scottish Government is continuing to take action to support sustainable economic growth in Scotland. We are investing in infrastructure to support growth, building a supportive business environment, investing in innovation and helping our young people to obtain the skills that they need to succeed in the labour market.

Dennis Robertson: I welcome the recent publication of the document “A Jobs Plan for an Independent Scotland”, which looks at the long-term aspects of strengthening our economy and providing opportunities in the labour market. Does the cabinet secretary agree that, to take full control of strengthening our economy for the future, we need the full fiscal powers and tax revenue powers of an independent Scotland?

John Swinney: As I said in my previous answer to Dennis Robertson, we have taken a number of measures within our existing powers to deliver as much impetus to the Scottish economy as we possibly can. However, there are decisions relating to the economy that are outwith our control. The opportunity of independence—highlighted by the contents of “A Jobs Plan for an Independent Scotland”—is a range of policy interventions that we could make that would strengthen and support the development of the Scottish economy. We will be able to undertake those measures only if we have the full range of powers that will be on offer to the people of Scotland in the referendum on 18 September.