By Ian McConnell

SCOTTISH Chambers of Commerce is calling for the relationship between businesses and politicians to be “reset”, with a policy document issued ahead of the Holyrood election on May 6.

Launching the “action plan” entitled “Rally for Growth”, Scottish Chambers said “parliamentarians need to understand and support the value and importance of business in their policy programme”.

The business organisation declared: “The report is aimed at offering potential parliamentarians a blueprint for economic recovery in the wake of the damage caused by the coronavirus, impacts of leaving the European Union, and a legacy of slow growth in Scotland.”

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In December, Glasgow Chamber of Commerce chief executive Stuart Patrick voiced his belief that First Minister Nicola Sturgeon must recognise there had been a significant deterioration in the relationship between the Scottish Government and the business community since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, and address this.

Scottish Chambers’ action plan calls on “Scottish ministers to pass a Business Growth Act within the first 100 days of the government”.

It says this should encompass “the most urgent issues facing businesses right now”, including reducing upfront business costs, boosting international trade, and upskilling and reskilling the workforce.

Scottish Chambers is also calling for major digital and infrastructure investment, and “business mobilisation” on the COP26 United Nations Climate Change Conference, due to be staged in Glasgow in November. It also wants to see “faster action and increased investment” around renewable energies and a focus on “redesigning our cities”.

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As well as a Business Growth Act, Scottish Chambers is calling for the establishment of a new “joint economic partnership” that “would oversee an ambitious programme of pro-enterprise, pro-growth policies to boost business growth and job creation, bringing together ministers, the Scottish Government’s Council of Economic Advisers and the heads of Scottish business groups such as the SCC”.

Liz Cameron, chief executive of Scottish Chambers, said: “Our wide-ranging action plan is the ‘manifesto’ of the business community to forge a new, closer, more effective alliance between Scottish businesses and the next Scottish Parliament. We hope our plan will provide a comprehensive yet practical set of ideas that will be fundamental to ensuring that our economy bounces back and is ready to grasp new trading opportunities here and abroad. The pace of government action must be accelerated considerably.”

She added: “The Scottish people need commerce and government to align if we are to tackle the big challenges ahead. In this most critical moment, it is vital that Scottish ministers and business leaders are talking the same language and recognising the need to balance long-term strategies for growth alongside concrete action in the here and now, to ensure we retain as many businesses as possible whilst creating new jobs.”