Hunter: econ plan ‘wish list with no magic wand’

Tom Hunter

Entrepreneur and philanthropist Tom Hunter said on Tuesday the Scottish Government’s latest announcement on its 10-year economic strategy is a “wish list with no magic wand to deliver it.”

Hunter said what Scotland needs is a business led economic growth strategy for the country to “turbo charge” scale-up companies.

A new “National Strategy for Economic Transformation” was unveiled by Economy Secretary Kate Forbes.

Scottish Conservative finance spokeswoman Liz Smith claimed the strategy is a “thin and underwhelming collection of platitudes.”

Smith said: “It has some lofty aspirations with far too few concrete plans for delivering economic growth.

“Beneath the buzzwords, this speech contained the telling admission that many of the problems in the Scottish economy — slow productivity growth, skills shortages, entrenched regional inequalities and poverty — predate Covid.”

Hunter said: “Were this a business, which in most part it is, I would have focussed far more attention on asking the customer what is needed i.e. consulting with the people that are going to generate the jobs and economic prosperity.

“What we have here is a long wish list with no magic wand to deliver it, which I do not believe is market tested nor pragmatic.

“We need a far more focussed approach to economic delivery and one single body with absolute authority and responsibility for that delivery with no one checking their own homework.

“We also need to tackle the various elephants in the room. If we are truly focussed on increased productivity we need to address that in our public sector.

“Scotland has 579400 public sector employees; Denmark 338000; the latter being the second happiest place on earth with 400 000 more of a population and we have 75% of their output per person.*

“Improve public sector productivity and you are well on the way to delivering growth.

“And were Scotland a business would we have thirty two subsidiaries?

“Our agencies such as Scottish Enterprise, which incidentally should be taken out of political control, must readjust to the future needs of business and be fit for purpose and our ambition be far greater – the Scottish National Investment Bank is vastly undercapitalised for its purpose if it is to achieve it.

“To be clear I admire Kate Forbes and I believe she sees the opportunities but in politics multiple interests tend to prevail as is apparent here.

“What we need is a business led economic growth strategy where we turbo charge scale-ups; the only entities that move the economic dial and greater support for early stage high growth businesses.

“Combine that with a productivity drive across the economic landscape including the public sector and an education system fit for purpose and we have a chance of winning in the global race for economic prosperity.

“Let business and Government genuinely come together, agree targets, timescales, budgets and responsibilities and get on with it.”