NICOLA Sturgeon should let business leaders forge a path to economic recovery instead of ministers and civil servants who lack experience and understanding of the sector, one of Scotland's top entrepreneurs has said.

Sir Tom Hunter said Scotland invented the modern world and can now "deliver a new enlightenment" in the face of the coronavirus crisis.

But he urged SNP ministers not to "have the civil service or your agencies write an implementation plan for a customer they don’t really understand".

He said the Scottish Government should acknowledge its lack of business experience "in the civil service, their agencies and in Cabinet".

The philanthropist spoke out following the publication of a report by the Advisory Group on Economic Recovery, chaired by former Tesco Bank chief executive Benny Higgins.

It recommended a raft of measures, including  guaranteeing secure jobs for young people for at least two years to help tackle a "potential tsunami" of unemployment.

Mr Higgins suggested around £6 billion in "stimulus" will be needed for Scotland to recover, while the report estimated a 33 per cent fall in Scottish GDP over the months that the current distancing measures are in place.

The advisory group also highlighted existing problems in the relationship between the Scottish Government and business leaders, and the "pressing need for a reset".

The Scottish Government will respond to the group's report by the end of July.

Sir Tom, who was Scotland's first-ever billionaire, said the report sets out no implementation plan and "misses the vital role of small to medium-sized businesses in new job creation – more or less all of it will come from them in the next five years".

READ MORE: Sir Tom Hunter boosts investment firm's cash reserves amid uncertainty 

Writing in today's Herald, he said business leaders should shape the implementation plan.

He said: "If there was ever a time for the Scottish Government to acknowledge their lack of business experience in the civil service, their agencies and in Cabinet it is now, not as an admission of guilt but a recognition of what you do best and we do best.

"And to be clear so the same is true of us in business; many of us, me included, don’t understand how government works and that’s a recognition of what you do best.

"We need to come together respecting each other's skill sets, harness them and accelerate them."

Sir Tom said it is now time "to be bold and apply the same science, evidence and urgent implementation as we have to Covid-19 to our economic recovery".

He added: "My solution is this. [Economy Secretary] Fiona Hyslop has indicated she will respond to the Higgins Report towards the end of July.

"So First Minister and Fiona let the customer, let business come together and write your answer guided by a lead civil servant who understands business and your budgets; but with no sacred cows.

"Do not have the civil service or your agencies write an implementation plan for a customer they don’t really understand; let us in business take this on, trust business to do it and work with you on this.

"I know we can engage the best brains from around the world on this and the best in Scotland."

READ MORE: Sir Tom Hunter backs second ‘confirmatory’ Brexit referendum 

Scottish Conservative finance spokesman Donald Cameron said: “During the coronavirus pandemic we’ve seen just how inventive and enterprising Scotland’s business community can be. But that ingenuity is met by incompetence and disinterest by the SNP.

"Over more than a decade in government, the nationalists have proved they don’t understand business, or respect the need for the economy to thrive.

"For once, the SNP should listen to individuals like Sir Tom Hunter and act on his advice.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said it is supporting tens of thousands of businesses with £2.3bn of response support and with a Return to Work package of £230m.

He added: “As we restart the economy and work through recovery needs as the report from the Advisory Group on Economic Recovery, led by Benny Higgins, sets out, we will need all of Scotland to step up to the mark and that will require a new partnership between business and government, as well as civic Scotland.

“We will set out our response by the end of the July but action has to start before then and will most definitely need partnership between business and Government.

“The Scottish Government recognises the extensive business contributions to the advisory group’s report, contributions from the Hunter Foundation and the need for all of Scotland to pull together to steer us to recovery. 

“The Scottish Government will respond to the independent advisory group by the end of July but will be taking action to start delivering on recommendations now in advance of that – action which will certainly involve Scotland’s business talent.”