New economic statistics, which show Scottish businesses registering a strengthening pace of economic growth last month, have added weight to SNP calls for more job-creating powers for the Scottish Parliament.
The Bank of Scotland's Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) has risen since March at a faster rate than the rest of the UK, with seven out of nine English regions showing slowing growth.
Commenting on the new figures, Scotland's Finance Secretary, John Swinney, said: "The SNP Government will continue to strengthen Scotland's recovery and boost jobs. We are delivering an alternative Scottish economic strategy which is delivering results. Against expectations, the Scottish economy performed better than the UK as a whole in the fourth quarter of 2010, including in the construction and services sector – and the PMI survey also shows Scotland outperforming the position south of the Border.
Mr Swinney added: "there is much more to do, and Scotland needs to secure further tools so that the UK Government cannot risk the recovery we are building, or undermine the positive path the Scottish economy is taking. The Scottish people have spoken, and delivering the additional powers in the Scotland Bill that the SNP set out in the election campaign – and secured the strongest possible mandate for – is a key test of Westminster’s 'respect agenda' for Scotland.
Capital investment flow must be sustained in the face of massive Westminster cuts, which is why the Scottish Government needs early access to enhanced borrowing powers so that we can continue to invest in vital capital spending.
We need the ability to compete, with the responsibility for Corporation Tax - a move that is rightly being considered for Northern Ireland.
And the Scottish Parliament needs to gain responsibility for the Crown Estate, and Scotland's £195 million Fossil Fuel Levy surplus must be released now, as additional spending, so that we can re-industrialise Scotland by achieving our green energy potential.
Strengthening and improving the Scotland Bill in these areas to secure job-creating powers is an immediate priority of the re-elected SNP Government - so that we can build on the positive work the Scottish Government is doing to strengthen the recovery, boost employment, and keep bringing unemployment down.