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Last Updated: Friday, 9 September 2005, 16:55 GMT 17:55 UK
Business leaders rebuke executive
First Minister Jack McConnell
Jack McConnell said business relations were better than ever
Scotland's first minister has clashed with business leaders over Scottish Executive support for the industry.

Jack McConnell told a conference at Holyrood that relations between MSPs and the business community were better than ever.

But Janette Anderson, of First Engineering, said ministers had failed to "fly the flag" for Scots businesses at Westminster.

The Scottish Tories said the first minister was poorly advised.

Mr McConnell told delegates the executive had been keen to help the business industry since devolution and he highlighted its pledge to cut business rates.

"In both quantity and quality, that dialogue is having more of an impact than it has ever before," he said.

Our leaders demonstrate no confidence in our companies - why should you?
Ian Graham
Graham Technology

"In the course of that dialogue we have been listening more and more as the six years has progressed."

However, business leaders said they received insufficient political support.

Ms Anderson, of First Engineering, said: "You guys go to Westminster and London a lot and I'm not sure you're really flying the flag for Scottish-based businesses, in terms of the Olympic bid in particular."

She added that many large transport schemes needed parliamentary approval, adding: "In my experience a lot of that process is unbelievably slow and cumbersome."

'Built in bias'

Ian Graham, chairman of manufacturing company Graham Technology, said there was a "built in bias" in Scottish procurement which favoured established global organisations.

"It's a sad indictment of the current situation that Graham Technology earns 15% of global revenue from public sector bodies yet has never earned a penny from the Scottish Executive," he said.

Mr Graham said that Scotland not buying from its own companies sent out a message to the world that "our leaders demonstrate no confidence in our companies - why should you?"

Tory enterprise spokesman Murdo Fraser said: "All too often with this first minister it seems that all he is ever told by his advisors is what they think he wishes to hear rather than what he needs to hear."

Scottish National Party enterprise spokesman Jim Mather added: "What we have now is a business community believing it can get movement from the executive."




SEE ALSO:
McConnell vows business rate cut
06 Sep 05 |  Scotland
Business open to Budget measures
16 Mar 05 |  Scotland
Talent spotting for economy boost
28 Feb 05 |  Scotland


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