Page last updated at 23:06 GMT, Saturday, 24 October 2009 00:06 UK

Budget plan 'inadequate' says CBI

Artist's impression of Glasgow airport rail link
The decision to cancel the Glasgow airport rail link was criticised

The Scottish Government's spending plans for the coming year are "inadequate", business leaders have said.

CBI Scotland's response to the SNP's draft budget said there was a need to support, rather than cut, investment in the economy.

It called for a "far bolder approach" to making savings which protected "important GDP-enhancing investments".

The government said the budget was focused on promoting economic recovery.

Airport link

CBI Scotland said there were "austere" times ahead for the public finances.

But business leaders said this should be viewed as a "significant and positive opportunity to do things differently".

The CBI said that higher taxes, piecemeal spending cuts, and the axing of much needed infrastructure would be the wrong approach.

It called the cancellation of the Glasgow airport rail link project "unacceptable" and said it reflected a number of "troubling shortcomings" in the government's intentions.

The CBI put forward its own suggestions to stimulate the economy, with changes to the Scottish Government's £35bn draft 2010/11 budget.

The levers are there to stimulate the economy but the SNP will not use them
Iain Gray
Scottish Labour

CBI Scotland's director Iain McMillan said: "The proposals that we have put forward to make savings and entrench recovery will require decisive political leadership and the challenging of sacred cows, but that is exactly what is required in these uncertain times for both businesses and the public finances."

A spokesman for Finance Secretary John Swinney said: "The draft budget is focused on promoting economic recovery and protecting frontline services - in the face of the UK government's £500m cut to Scotland's budget - and our Economic Recovery Plan is supporting some 15,000 jobs.

"The devolved budget process must operate within a fixed - and declining - settlement from Westminster, and while CBI Scotland propose areas for additional expenditure, unfortunately they make no practical suggestions for how spending could be correspondingly reduced in 2010/11."

Labour's Holyrood leader Iain Gray said the SNP had "got it wrong" with the economy.

He criticised the decision to scrap the Glasgow Airport rail link, which he claimed cost more than 1,000 jobs and harmed the construction industry.

Mr Gray said: "Glasgow airport rail link is a symbol of their approach to government. Don't forget this is the second airport rail link they have cancelled.

"The levers are there to stimulate the economy but the SNP will not use them."

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