ALEX Salmond's sixth programme for government since becoming First Minister featured 15 bills, which will usher in wide-ranging economic, social and legal reforms.

Aside from the headline- grabbing Referendum Bill and Children and Young People Bill – which was accompanied by an £18 million scheme to boost family centres – the emphasis was on the economy.

Almost half the programme was geared towards business, as the First Minister reiterated his determination to "focus on growth".

The measures included a Bankruptcy Bill, offering the hope of a better deal for small contractors left with unpaid bills.

New taxes to replace Stamp Duty – in the form of a Land and Buildings Transaction Tax – and Landfill tax will be created as Holyrood gains new responsibilities under the Scotland Act.

And a Better Regulation Bill promises to reform planning and streamline red tape.

There will also be a Procurement Reform Bill ensuring communities benefit from major public investments and, possibly, handing an advantage to Scots bidders who might prove more willing to take on extra apprentices as required under proposed new rules.

Despite the focus on business, CBI Scotland gave the programme only a guarded welcome.

Director Iain McMillan, said: "A number of the measures contained within the Scottish Government's legislative programme are welcome.

"However, this was a missed opportunity to signal a fresh direction on public service reform through contracting-out the delivery of a far wider range of public services to the private sector.

"We also wanted to see Scottish Water made less reliant on the public purse in order to free up money for other GDP-enhancing infrastructure investments, and are disappointed at the lack of a moratorium on any new or additional taxes during the remainder of this parliament."

In a dig at the Referendum Bill at the heart of the plans, he added: "The commitment to a referendum and its timing does create uncertainty for business, which is why our members have called for the ballot to be held sooner rather than later."

CBI Scotland voiced disappointment that the proposed procurement reforms gave no "firm commitments" to let private companies deliver public services.

But the same bill was welcomed by Fraser Kelly, chief executive of Social Enterprise Scotland, who represent not-for-profit ventures which often work alongside public service providers.

He said: "We trust the Scottish Government will listen carefully to the expertise of the social enterprise community, so we can boost our social economy and improve lives.

"These changes have the potential to transform Scotland and the opportunity for radical reform should not be missed.

"We're ready to work in partnership with Government and Parliament to deliver for Scotland's third sector and communities."

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in Scotland, also welcomed the "economic focus" of the programme.

Spokeswoman Angela Bonney said: "There are encouraging signs that the Scottish Government is doing its utmost to increase and strengthen economic activity – via land, property and construction –within its legislative powers."

Paul Brewer, head of government and public sector at PwC in Scotland, said the measures reflected a "commitment to economic regeneration".

He added: "Collectively these represent a considerable commitment for MSPs.

"But in taking this programme forward, it is vital the legislation is continually tested as to its ability to stimulate inward investment, job creations and economic regeneration."

Dave Moham, deputy general secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress, described the Better Regulation Bill as "depressing", insisting firms were not overburdened with red tape.

He added: "This bill may be something the Scottish Government feels it ought to do, but there is no evidence that it should."

However, he welcomed other proposals – including the Marriage and Civil Partnership Bill, Children and Young People Bill and post-16 education reforms – in what he described as a "genuinely interesting legislative programme".

He said: "STUC is excited by the prospect of the Scottish Parliament legislating for equal marriage and there is the potential within the Post-16 Education Reform Bill for positive legislation.

"The decision to table a specific bill focusing on the needs of children and young people in Scotland provides a good opportunity for a debate which centres on key issues such as child-care and pre-school education.

"Having opened the subject, the Scottish Government should be prepared for arguments which propose a significant shift of resources towards the needs of the young."

The Criminal Justice Bill will enact controversial plans, proposed following a review by Lord Carloway, to end the need for corroborating evidence in trials.

Michael Clancy, director of law reform at the Law Society of Scotland, said: "We still have serious concerns around the removal of the requirement for corroboration.

"We believe there is a case for a wider and broader-based review of the law of evidence and criminal procedure, so we will be looking carefully at the proposed Criminal Justice Bill."