McMillan chose to use his customary “New Year message” to ramp up his criticism of the Scottish Government on several fronts and to question the sincerity of its commitment to the economy and business.

Although McMillan was reluctant to name names, his comments over the Diageo issue appear to be aimed at Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond and Finance Secretary John Swinney, who were vociferous in their criticism of the drinks giant’s decision to close the Johnnie Walker bottling plant at Kilmarnock with the loss of about 700 jobs.

And, while saying he did not wish to single people out for criticism, he highlighted his annoyance with Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s remarks at the SNP conference about never putting private profit before public sector need.

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Commenting on “the behaviour of some Scottish ministers about the closure of Diageo’s plant in Kilmarnock” -- part of a reorganisation which will see the drinks giant create about 400 new jobs with investment in its bottling plant at Leven in Fife -- McMillan told The Herald: “It really was very inappropriate behaviour.

“This is a company that needs to modernise, that has felt the need to rationalise its operations in Scotland whilst investing £100m or more into the Scottish economy creating 400 new jobs in Fife.

“The way some ministers shouted and bawled at that company was nothing short of scandalous.”

He added: “My members in Scotland feel very strongly that it was not the way to behave towards a company that needs to modernise and, at the same time, was offering substantial investment in new plant and new jobs in Scotland.”

McMillan contrasted Scottish Government ministers’ treatment of CBI member Diageo with their relatively muted reactions to both US-headquartered Bausch & Lomb’s decision to close its contact lens manufacturing plant at Livingston in West Lothian with the loss of about 500 jobs, and to cuts in the workforce at Whyte & Mackay arising from that Scotch whisky company’s reorganisation.

McMillan said: “It (the treatment of Diageo) contrasted very sharply with Whyte & Mackay and Bausch & Lomb, who were rationalising and, in the latter case, actually closing their plant in Livingston, and they were not subject to the same behaviour (from Scottish Government ministers).”

He added: “As we go into 2010, that kind of behaviour on the part of ministers needs to be a thing of the past.”

Turning to Sturgeon’s comments at the SNP conference, McMillan said: “The Deputy First Minister, in her speech, was heard to say [she would] never put private profit before public services.”

“I don’t know if the Deputy First Minister did not think that would not be picked up and heard by the business community, but it certainly was.”

He added: “I think there are two serious concerns there. One was, if the Deputy First Minister felt she had to use language like that to ingratiate herself to her party, it calls into question her entire party’s business credentials. (And) in the modern economy, we need both the public sector and the private sector.”

McMillan acknowledged there were jobs in the public sector that were “very important for society”, but added: “It is the taxes that arise from private enterprise that pay for our public services. There didn’t seem to be any acknowledgment or understanding of that position on the part of the Deputy First Minister.”

The CBI Scotland director meanwhile highlighted his members’ concerns over the SNP’s opposition to any new nuclear power stations being built in Scotland.

Many in the business community believe that such massive capital expenditure projects would provide a massive boost to the Scottish economy as it attempts to recover from deep recession and the crisis in the banking sector.

And McMillan also reiterated the business community’s concern over the SNP Government’s decision to abandon the Glasgow Airport Rail Link (Garl) project.

He said: “Only last year, in 2008, Stewart Stevenson, the transport minister, referred to Garl as one of a number of vital transport infrastructure projects. Then, in September of this year, the Scottish Government cancelled the project. They did it without consultation.

“They have never satisfactorily explained how that vital piece of infrastructure had to be sacrificed at a time when they have £34bn to spend on an annual basis in Scotland.”

McMillan also criticised the SNP Government’s refusal to use the public-private partnership (PPP) model to finance infrastructure projects. And he took issue with the Holyrood administration over its attitude to private sector participation in the National Health Service, claiming there was scope for more of a partnership.

However, McMillan did praise the SNP Government for retaining business rate poundage parity with England, noting this decision was providing an annual benefit of £220m to the business community north of the Border relative to what the position would be without this stance.

He said continuing rate poundage parity was making a “substantial contribution” to the competitiveness of Scottish business and added: “We are delighted. That was a very big issue for us.”

McMillan also welcomed the ongoing M74 and M80 motorway upgrade projects, as well as the reopening of the Airdrie to Bathgate rail link, “improvements” to the planning process, and the Scottish Government’s moves to speed up supplier invoice payments.

He told The Herald: “We have always given any government, including this government, credit where credit is due.”

However, he added: “While there are some very welcome plus signs, there are far too many minus signs building up there.”

On whether or not this meant he was giving the SNP Government a “minus” overall, McMillan replied: “I think, as we go into 2010, it is very finely balanced. If there are any more minus signs in the New Year, they will be in negative territory without a doubt.”

In his New Year message, McMillan says: “In 2010, the Scottish Government must do more for business and the economy if it is to have any real chance of achieving its primary goal of raising Scotland’s growth rate to the UK level by 2011. This means that ministers must put in place policies that promote, rather than hinder, economic growth.”

He adds: “2009 also saw disappointing behaviours on the part of some ministers that call into question the sincerity of their support for the economy and business.

“That must be a thing of the past in 2010.”

Finance Secretary John Swinney defended his decision to axe the GARL project and also backed attempts by ministers to save the two Diageo plants.

Mr Swinney claimed Westminster had cut the Scottish Government's budget, leaving him with "very tough decisions".

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme Mr Swinney said: "I have to live within my means and the Westminster Government has cut my budget for the first time in real terms since devolution.

"As a consequence I have to take supplementary decisions, and as a consequence reluctantly I had to cancel the Glasgow Airport Rail Link.

"I had to do that because I have to live within a fixed financial budget, I can not break that budget. Everybody else can go around arguing for a limitless number of projects to be undertaken, I have to put the money on the table for those projects."

He also hit back at Mr McMillan's claims that ministers had been "shouting and bawling at Diageo".

Mr Swinney said: "On no occasion did we shout down the company. We engaged in dialogue with the company about how they were going to structure their future within Scotland."

And he stated: "We have focused the priorities of the public sector and the priorities of Government on improving the Scottish economy and we do that in very challenging times.

"In 2009 there were a whole range of policy successes that were welcomed by the business community and delivered by the SNP Government."