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[ 15-04-2010 ]

Scottish Chambers of Commerce have today (Thursday) released their Business Survey results for the first quarter of 2010.  The survey, conducted in conjunction with the University of Strathclyde’s Fraser of Allander Institute, suggests that the Scottish economy had a hesitant start to the year, perhaps contributed to by the extreme weather.  However as the General Election approaches, the survey highlights where good government could assist in rebuilding Scottish economic growth.

Garry Clark, Head of Policy and Public Affairs at Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said:
“This is a crucial time for the Scottish economy.  The emerging positive outlook evident in Scottish business in the second half of 2009 has given way to a more cautious optimism in the early months of this year.  It is likely that for many businesses, particularly in the construction, retail and tourist sectors, the cold weather and snow has had an adverse effect on business, hindering demand and also increasing energy and utility costs.  Equally the re-imposition of VAT at 17.5% is likely to have impacted on sales.
“The impending General Election will remove some of the current uncertainties over the future direction of government policy, and it will also provide an opportunity to cement a ‘good government’ approach to the economy at the heart of national policy.  It is evident that the recovery in manufacturing has been predominantly export led, and it is vital that this is supported and developed as part of a wider policy of rebalancing our economy to exploit and grow Scottish manufacturing expertise and excellence to the maximum.  
“Construction remains in difficulties, and of particular concern is the apparent fall in the volume of public sector contracts.  It underlines the need for the Scottish Futures Trust to rapidly expand its delivery of capital infrastructure projects throughout Scotland.  In addition, there is a clear need for a strengthening of the programme to build more social and affordable housing to meet increasing demand.
“We need a long term credible plan to grow and re-balance the Scottish economy, a policy that supports both excellence and diversity that in our industry strengths.  There is room for new partnerships between sectors and between the government and business to assist in the delivery of such a strategy.  With our economy at a delicate stage, the opportunity to maximise our future success must be seized.”