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Scottish first minister unveils gov't program to boost economic growth
2016/9/7 16:41:38 Source:Xinhua

EDINBURGH, Sept. 6 (Xinhua) -- Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon Tuesday announced plans to increase economic growth in her government program.

The three-year Scottish Growth Scheme will see the Scottish government unlock investment for the private sector, which is facing increased uncertainty as a result of Brexit for Britain to leave the European Union, said the Scottish government press release.

Individual investment guarantees, and some loans, of up to 5 million pounds (about 6.71 million U.S. dollars) will be available to small and medium sized firms who would otherwise be unable to grow because of a lack of investment finance.

The scheme will be open to new and early-stage high growth potential companies, with clear export growth plans, particularly in technology-intensive sectors and businesses in emerging markets, such as financial technology.

As financial guarantees, the support will not come from existing spending plans, and will instead see the Scottish government share some of the risk faced by small companies, when they make big investment decisions.

The announcement came as Sturgeon revealed which capital investment schemes will benefit from 100 million pounds of accelerated capital spending in this financial year starting April.

She also announced steps to deliver on the Scottish government's commitment to 100 percent superfast broadband and establish a National Manufacturing Institute for Scotland. She also confirmed 290 million pounds worth of European Structural Funds projects to support Scotland's people, communities and businesses. With partner funding, this will deliver a total investment of 650 million pounds.

This is part of wide-ranging legislative program that will see 14 bills introduced, continuing to deliver on the Scottish government's priorities including education to create opportunities for all and transform public services.

Four of the bills will be introduced as a result of new powers devolved to the Scottish Parliament including a Social Security Bill to establish a social security agency.

"This is a new parliament, with new powers, operating in a new political, economic and constitutional context," said Sturgeon, vowing to build an economy where everyone has a fair chance to contribute to growth, and where everyone can share in the benefits of growth.

On Scottish independence, Sturgeon mentioned her promise to consult on a draft Referendum Bill, however, noting that it would be ready for immediate introduction "if we conclude that independence is the best of only way to protect Scotland's interests." (1 British pound=1.34 U.S. dollars)

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