Page last updated at 15:01 GMT, Sunday, 25 January 2009

SNP ready to listen over budget

Alex Salmond
Mr Salmond said talks with rival parties were continuing.

First Minister Alex Salmond has said he is confident of getting the Scottish Government's budget past the final crunch vote in parliament.

He also told BBC Scotland his minority administration was in "listening mode", as talks to win the support of rival parties has continued.

MSPs will be asked to approve the 33bn spending plans for 2009-10, in a vote at Holyrood this week.

Ministers warned its rejection would cost Scotland 1.8bn.

Opposition parties have made a series of demands in return for their support, including the Greens' call for a 100m-a-year free home insulation package.

If the budget didn't pass, it would cost Scotland dear
Alex Salmond
First Minister
Labour wants more emphasis on jobs, public services and the economy, while the Liberal Democrats' demand for a 2p income tax has already been rejected by ministers.

Mr Salmond told BBC Scotland's Politics Show that constructive talks were still continuing with rival parties.

He said: "We're being constructive and positive about it, we're in listening mode and we're confident we can get the budget through."

The first minister also warned: "If the budget didn't pass, it would cost Scotland dear."

The government said that, if the spending plans were rejected by MSPs, Scotland would lose out on 1.8bn of spending in 2009/10, under emergency measures allowing ministers to spend at the latest version of the current year's budget.

Labour, Tories and the Greens backed the budget at the preliminary vote - but warned the SNP there was no guarantee of supporting it at the final hurdle.

The Lib Dems previously voted against, saying the budget failed to help Scotland through the financial downturn.

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