JOHN Swinney has been urged to prioritise economic growth and row back on plans to heap further tax on business following his election as leader of the SNP.

The veteran politician is now on course to replace Humza Yousaf and become Scotland’s seventh First Minister.

And the Scottish Retail Consortium declared economic growth should be the “priority of priorities” for the new incumbent.

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David Lonsdale, director of the SRC, said: “The Scottish Retail Consortium congratulates Mr Swinney on becoming SNP leader and the presumptive next First Minister.

“He takes office at a critical juncture for the economy after four years of fall-out from the pandemic and costs crunch. We look forward to working constructively with the new ministerial team to ensure the economy is the priority of priorities.

“Central to this should be an economic growth plan which eases the burgeoning regulatory burden, scraps the mooted business rate surtax on grocery stores, and finally delivers on the pledge to restore business rates parity with England for medium-sized and larger commercial premises. After all, an expanding economy is good for living standards and job prospects as well as government revenues.”

Tracy Black, devolved nations ambassador at the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said:  “We congratulate John Swinney on becoming the SNP’s new leader. Mr Swinney collaborated positively with business in his previous roles as Deputy First Minister and interim Finance Secretary and we look forward to working with him as First Minister. 

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“With the Scottish economy continuing to tread water, the new First Minister has no time to waste. We need to create a competitive and resilient economy that champions business and delivers opportunity for communities across Scotland.  

“We look forward to re-engaging with Mr Swinney on measures to support improved productivity through innovation and technology, ensure our highly educated workforce contributes to sustainable economic growth and to encourage global investment and skilled employees into Scotland.” 

The Scottish Tourism Alliance said it welcomed the election of Mr Swinney and his "renewed commitment to economic growth". And it called for the next First Minister to reinstate a minister for tourism and hospitality at Cabinet level.

Chief executive Marc Crothall said: "Given the sector’s immense importance to Scotland’s economy and its diverse nature, we believe it is essential for our industry to have a dedicated voice at the highest level of government.

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"Our vision and mission align closely with the Scottish Government’s National Strategy for Economic Transformation, [so] it is imperative that the tourism and hospitality sector is represented at the top table of government so that barriers to the sector’s growth can be overcome with supportive policy, and the many opportunities in front of us are recognised and fully understood by all in the new Cabinet.

"We also very much welcome Mr Swinney’s commitment to offer Kate Forbes a senior role in his Cabinet on the presumption he will be officially appointed as the next FM. Both have recognised the significant importance of a healthy, prosperous tourism and hospitality sector in Scotland and have consistently engaged openly and constructively with the STA to discuss the many challenges faced by our sector."