Graeme Blackett: Let Scotland reach full potential

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SCOTLAND’S economic potential as a nation is huge. With the combination of human resources, natural resources and competitive advantages in many global growth sectors, it is difficult to find a country that has more potential than Scotland. However, this will only be realised with policies that reflect Scottish opportunities and preferences.

That is why N-56 (www.N-56.org) has launched its “Scotland Means Business” report this week, proposing a new economic strategy that will propel Scotland to become one of the five wealthiest countries in the world through doubling the nation’s economic wealth over 25 years.

Having extensively researched successful economies and markets world-wide, it is clear that Scotland can learn lessons from countries, such as Singapore, New Zealand and the Nordic countries, on how to improve its overall economic performance.

Business, the public sector, civic society and the government must work collaboratively to develop clear policies and milestones that move Scotland up the rankings at a faster pace than at present if we are to achieve recognition as one of the wealthiest countries in the world.

The package of measures we propose is wide and varied. The report calls for a national development plan to ensure that we develop a co-ordinated infrastructure programme and invest adequately in this, improving transport as well as the delivery of air hubs.

Based on the experience of New Zealand, to achieve maximum economic growth Scotland must also look to develop a new exports strategy, including developing a Scottish brand through investment in R&D, infrastructure and education.

In addition to building on the strengths of our growth sectors, such as renewable energy and tourism, there are tremendous opportunities to develop new sectors through taking advantage of current challenges, such as those presented by an ageing population, and the development of products and services for this group both at home and overseas.

A simpler tax system is another aspect of our new economic strategy and proposed measures, include favourable tax treatment of HQ functions to retain these in Scotland and attract others, as well as personal tax breaks for those in key sectors.

There is no magic bullet to dealing with the challenges Scotland faces, but what we have produced is a package of measures which can be incorporated into a national economic strategy ensuring that our nation truly realises its full potential and that we become one of the wealthiest countries in the world.

Graeme Blackett is the lead author of N-56’s Scotland Means Business report