The slew of business survey and official data published over recent weeks suggests that the economy is at long last showing encouraging signs of life.

But what can be done to improve the chances of the recovery and ensure that meaningful growth takes hold?

The Scottish Government's next budget, to be unveiled next month, provides a great opportunity to assist. The devolved administration has a substantial remit, with major economic levers under its control and a £30 billion annual budget.

At the heart of Mr Swinney's spending and taxation plans must be a bolder approach to making savings to free up money for spending on more economically beneficial and growth enhancing areas of government intervention. It would also negate the need for further additional business tax rises. There are plenty of options for reshaping devolved spending, and while some might not be politically easy, now is the time for Scottish ministers to grasp the nettle. The options include: a robust but flexible approach to restraining pay and pensions, just as business itself has done; altering spending priorities, for example making Scottish Water's investment plans less reliant on the public purse; introducing a graduate contribution to the cost of students' university education; reducing the number of public bodies such as local authorities and rates assessors; signalling an end to the ring-fencing of health spending; and far greater contracting-out of the delivery of public services delivery to private and not-for-profit providers

With the Centre for Public Policy for Regions think tank forecasting several more years of fiscal restraint ahead for the devolved public purse, new thinking is needed on the delivery of public services to maintain quality. The savings outlined above would allow Scottish ministers to continue to invest in the economy and deliver on the pledge to prioritise sustainable growth.

Top billing for spending measures should go on infrastructure that builds long-term economic capacity, facilitates private sector investment, helps overcome Scotland's location on the periphery of major markets and minimises future maintenance bills. A further injection of capital spending, for example on smaller scale projects such as roads and affordable housing, and bringing forward repair, maintenance and improvement works would aid the construction sector and its manufacturing supply chain.

Further key areas for spending should include skills development, particularly Stem (science, technology, engineering and maths) skills, research and innovation, and funding for new air connections to overseas markets. The enterprise agencies are right to focus their limited resources on sectors and small and medium-sized firms with high-growth potential, and such business and export support must be maintained and nurtured.

Larger retailers and firms with empty commercial premises have been hit by £131m worth of extra business rate levies over the past year, and ministers should think again about these two tax rises. Next month's budget should certainly not impose further tax rises on business, which could throttle the recovery. Keeping taxes and other charges affecting business down and predictable helps firms remain competitive. It also helps to fund their investment plans, crucial in an era when retained profits are becoming a more important source of financing investment intentions.

The devolved government has taken a welcome approach on the Scottish variable rate of income tax, council tax and the headline poundage rate. Ministers should go further and introduce a moratorium on any new or additional business rate levies, and provide early clarity over the likely rates under the new Land & Buildings Transaction Tax, which comes into effect in 2015. A growing economy is the best means of increasing prosperity and minimising future demands on the public purse. This should be reflected in the Government's spending plans next month. Passing a devolved budget that aids business iis a key step on the road to sustainable economic growth.