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CBI chief: no need to vote Yes to get industrial strategy

The Scottish Government already has the power to create an industrial strategy despite the implication in the independence White Paper that only a Yes vote can deliver it, CBI Scotland's chief executive claims.

Speaking to the Sunday Herald, Iain McMillan, who crossed swords with the administration with his pro-Union New Year message, renewed his attack on November's independence ­manifesto, calling it a "damp squib" and saying it downplayed efforts by existing agencies including Scottish Enterprise (SE) and Scottish Development International (SDI).

He said: "Powers already exist in a devolved Scotland for an effective industrial strategy. The important elements of a strategy are education and skills - the ability to give our people of whatever social background a good education that will result in their being fit for purpose for good jobs in the workforce, along with the development of their skills in the workforce.

"We also need the development of our transport infrastructure and connectivity, and a good planning system that allows the kind of development that will drive the economy. Other strands of an economic development strategy include support for exports and inward investment.

"All of these are already under the jurisdiction of SE and SDI who support businesses on growth, on internationalisation, on entering the export market.

"All of these are important and all of them the Scottish Government and Parliament have within their devolved powers now."

In the White Paper, the Government revealed its intention, if there is a Yes vote in September, to "develop a new industrial strategy for Scotland", with key elements including support for investment and R&D, support for indigenous companies and strengthening the Scottish Investment Bank, expanding skills development, and "expanding our manufacturing base", plus offering targeted loan guarantees.

Nicola Sturgeon, the Deputy First Minister, has called the CBI's crticisms of the White Paper "negative nonsense" saying the document was a "comprehensive blueprint" for an independent Scotland.

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