Scottish economy continues to improve as SNP renew calls for ‘shovel ready’ funding

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By a Newsnet reporter

New Figures published today show Scotland’s economy is improving as the private sector continues to grow north of the border.

Analysis published by the Bank of Scotland shows Scotland’s private sector grew solidly last month, which, said the bank, indicated Scotland’s economy is returning to growth.

According to the bank, both output and employment grew in the sector which has now recorded 16 consecutive months of growth.

The bank’s index, used as a measurement of economic performance across manufacturing and service industries, recorded a measurement of 53.5 for Scotland – above 50 indicates positive growth.

According to the analysis, the last two months has seen the best improvement figures for Scottish employment in over five years.

Bank of Scotland chief economist Donald MacRae said: “April saw the PMI reach its second highest level in nine months with the sixteenth consecutive month of expansion.

“This result indicates the Scottish economy has negotiated the downturn at the end of last year with a minimum fall in output and encourages hopes for a return to growth in 2012.”

The figures were welcomed by Finance Secretary John Swinney who said they showed “positive signs of recovery”.

He added: “Today’s figures also show new export orders in manufacturing increasing for the second successive month in April pointing to an increase in new international business secured by Scottish firms.”

Mr Swinney repeated his party’s warning that more needs to be done by the UK Government if the recovery is to be maintained.

“We continue to press the UK government to increase capital investment and have identified a £300m list of shovel ready projects, to support jobs and benefit communities all across Scotland.  That investment is needed to put recovery on a firmer footing.” he said.

The Bank of Scotland report coincided with today’s Queen’s Speech debate in the House of Commons which was used by SNP Treasury Spokesman Stewart Hosie to echo his colleague’s calls for funding for so called ‘shovel ready projects’.

Speaking ahead of the debate Mr Hosie said: “We should be discussing government action for business and the economy – instead it’s more about UK Government inaction.

“This Queen’s speech is a missed opportunity for the UK Government to admit their austerity measures aren’t working, change tack and tackle our stagnating economy.

“The UK is in a double-dip recession as a direct result of a sharp fall in construction output, yet it has ignored the Scottish Government’s consistent calls for capital investment in ‘shovel-ready’ projects to grow the economy out of recession.”

Mr Hosie called the delay in releasing funding for Scotland’s capital funding projects “unacceptable” and insisted Scotland needed control over all economic levers in order to protect jobs and grow the economy.

He added:

“The feeble programme in the Queen’s speech is further proof we need the full powers of independence to take decisive action and build Scotland’s economy for the future”