Neil Gray defends the SNP government’s ‘progressive’ tax strategy

Humza Yousaf will use his keynote address in Holyrood on Tuesday to set out his government’s legislative agenda for the next 12 months.

However, Neil Gray, Secretary of State for Welfare Economics, has insisted the draft will contain many things “that people interested in economics can excite”.

However, he acknowledged that work needs to be done to restore business confidence in his party after a study by the Fraser of Allander Institute found that less than 10% of companies believe the SNP understands business needs.

Read more: Less than one in ten companies believe the Scottish Government is doing business

My Gray pointed out that some SNP companies have not forgiven the restrictions placed on them during the Covid pandemic to protect public health.

The Cabinet Secretary told the BBC’s Sunday Show that the government program will help boost Scotland’s economy.

He said: “We want to ensure that we are doing everything we can and within the powers we have to unlock Scotland’s economic potential – be it in renewable energy or supporting and ensuring world class business. “ a good operational basis, a good business environment.”

He added that measures to “support people to start their own business” and “support people to get a job” are being promoted.

READ ALSO: Anas Sarwar Warns Income Tax Levels ‘Burden Families’

Amid speculation that the Scottish Government could further increase taxes on higher earners in the next budget, Mr Gray said his government wanted to “ensure that the taxation we want to introduce is proportionate”, adding that the current regime “already viable” is considerable fruit”.

He said: “We want to make sure we keep a progressive tax regime – a proposal where the broadest shoulders carry the heaviest burden.”

“It’s progressive, it’s fair and it’s about making sure we all have the best possible public services.”

Asked about the lack of business confidence in his party, Mr Gray referred to “the new deal for business” which will help “reshape the relationship between government and our private sector partners”.

He insisted that “government take care of the economy”.

Mr Gray added: “We know that without a good economy we cannot have a good society and vice versa.” So of course we want to make sure we support our private sector partners and companies so they can continue to grow and invest .

Read more: Humza Yousaf pilots four-day workweek in key Holyrood speech

“It takes time to rebuild trust and we are judged by our actions, not just our words.”

He stressed that “the Westminster-controlled cost of living crisis is having a devastating impact on our businesses”.

Mr Gray admitted there were “a number of factors” that contributed to the SNP losing business confidence.

He added: “We’ve had the Covid pandemic which has made doing business very challenging and the cumulative effects of regulation we want to do what we can to overcome it.”

The senior SNP minister stressed “we are a party for economic growth” after criticizing his government partners, the Scottish Greens, for opposing unlimited economic growth.

He stressed that the Scottish Government wants to “build a welfare economy that is green, fair and prosperous”.

He said: “It seems that Labor and the Tories have abandoned the first two parts of it.

“We need to focus on the interests of business because they generate the wealth we need to ensure we can invest in public services.”

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