Covid-19 (Next Steps)

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 9th July 2020.

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The First Minister:

The most important thing that this Government needs to do for our tourism sector, for our economy, for society in general and, frankly, for every individual in the country is to provide the most sustainable basis for the recovery from the Covid crisis.

I know that Jackson Carlaw will never accept that anything that this Government does is any good at all, but anybody who takes a step back from what is going on will see that, right now, Scotland is being successful in tackling and suppressing this virus—perhaps more than is the case elsewhere in the UK—and that we need to continue with the approach that has achieved that, so that we can build that sustainable basis for recovery. [

Interruption

.]

I think that I just heard Jackson Carlaw say from a sedentary position that I should have listened to what he said earlier. Perhaps he should have listened to what I said, which was that I welcomed the chancellor’s announcements yesterday, as far as they go. However, I reserve the right to point out, as my colleagues have, that if we compare the totality and the scale of the fiscal stimulus in terms of its proportion of gross domestic product with what is happening elsewhere, we can see that it falls short of what many other countries are doing. All of us have a duty to point that out. We want to ensure that there continues to be a response to the economic crisis from the chancellor—because he holds the borrowing powers and the vast bulk of the other financial levers right now—that is commensurate with the scale of the challenge that we face.

Here in Scotland, as we have done from day 1, we will apply whatever consequentials that there are in a way that supports Scotland, the economy and other parts of the country, and we will look to see what more we can do to add to that response. That is very much the spirit in which the finance secretary will set out her statement this afternoon.

Whether in relation to the health crisis or the economic challenge and the many other aspects that flow from it, this Government is absolutely focused on getting the country through this as safely as possible, and I believe that the vast majority of people across Scotland support us in that endeavour. In fact, we would not be making the progress that we are making now without not just the support but the co-operation of everyone across Scotland, for which they all have my grateful thanks.