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It's back to business after the referendum … regardless of outcome

WHATEVER the result of the independence referendum, as soon as the dust settles the Scottish Government will return to the business of drawing up its draft budget for the coming year.

This will cover the period to March 2016, just before the next Scottish elections - either as an independent country or as part of the UK.

What is important for business is a focus on sustaining the economic recovery.

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As usual, the finance secretary, John Swinney, will have to balance competing priorities within a limited budget, though he will now have a wider range of tools at his disposal, with the new devolved land and buildings transaction tax coming into play in 2015.

This is the first of a range of new taxes devolved to Scotland, with landfill tax and greater powers over income tax set to follow and potentially, of course, a raft of new tax powers in the event of a 'yes' vote.

Next year's budget is likely to be a transitional one and it is important that the Scottish Government gets it right.

The recommendations of Sir Ian Wood's commission on skills needs to be recognised with a package of funding that will enable these to become central to the delivery of vocational education and skills for years to come, cementing the linkages between business and schools that have been developed by chambers of commerce and others.

Equally, on the back of high profile transport infrastructure projects such as the Queensferry Crossing, the Borders Railway and Edinburgh-Glasgow rail electrification, it is essential that the needs of rural parts of Scotland, where transport links are fragile, are not forgotten.

That is why, for example, Scottish Chambers of Commerce has been highlighting the case of the Berriedale Braes section of the A9 in Caithness, where a relatively small level of investment could deliver greater economic security for an important part of Scotland.

The referendum may dominate the headlines for the next fortnight and beyond but the reality of government will continue whichever constitutional route we choose.

Indeed the key issue will remain the same too: how government can put the support in place that will allow businesses to get on with the job of creating wealth, employment and the resources that will allow us to fund the public sector services which we desire.

This must remain the priority when the debate on the constitution is done.

Liz Cameron is chief executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce

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