Alex Salmond pledged support to small businesses today – saying they had “a huge role to play” in the recovery of Scotland’s economy.
And the SNP leader promised to call for greater competition in the business banking sector while visiting the offices of internet marketing firm Attacat in Edinburgh.
Mr Salmond said: “Small businesses are the lifeblood of the Scottish economy and they have a huge role to play in our continued recovery.
“Over the last four years the SNP has slashed or totally scrapped business rates for around 80,000 small and medium-sized companies right across the country and well will extend that help for a further five years.
“This has helped firms like Attacat, a young start-up company in one of Scotland’s growth industries, to expand and to increase employment, driving Scotland’s recovery.”
His comments followed last night’s Federation of Small Businesses debate in the city, where business owners were able to quiz party leaders on policy.
Members of the FSB urged the candidates to take action on the provision of finance for small businesses, and expressed their concerns over the dominance of the Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group.
Mr Salmond echoed Sir John Vickers’ interim report on reforming the UK banking system, which recommended that Lloyds Banking Group go further in addressing competition concerns.
He said the market was “too concentrated, with too little choice for small businesses” and pledged: “An SNP government will push for action and explore alternatives to make sure Scottish businesses have a choice between banks.”