Scottish business chief: New economic blueprint is government ‘micro-managing’

SIR Tom Hunter has declared that Scotland’s new national strategy for economic transformation “looks to me like government micro-managing” as he repeated calls for a more focused approach to stimulating growth in the next decade.

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes urged stakeholders to be “bold, ruthless and laser-focused to maximise the impact of the actions we have identified” as she unveiled the long-awaited blueprint in Dundee on Tuesday. But the recommendations sparked a mixed reaction within the business community. While the “scale and ambition” of the document, which contains scores of proposals to kick-start the Scottish economy, was praised by Scottish Chambers of Commerce and CBI Scotland, it drew sharp criticism from one of the country’s most successful entrepreneurs.

And Sir Tom Hunter expands on his concerns in an exclusive article for The Herald today, in which he questions the focus of a plan that contains around 70 initiatives.

“The scope was breathtaking with six programmes and some 70 action plans apparently all to be delivered with ‘laser focus’. Now I’m not sure about you but a laser focus on 70 action plans is well beyond me,” Sir Tom writes. “This looks to me like government micro-managing the economy and let’s face it their track record there is not great – set a regulatory framework and tax regime and let business get on with it.”

Sir Tom says the report is right to focus on entrepreneurship, education and productivity, which are “patently” key to Scotland’s future success. But he writes that “we need targets, delivery plans and leadership across this”, adding that “moreover it needs to be led by those that create the jobs”. He also emphasises the need for greater focus. “I am sorry but we need to disappoint businesses and the ideas that are not part of future economic growth by prioritising investment in winning sectors and technologies,” he writes.

Comment, P27

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