Shadow Business Minister Jamie Halcro Johnston MSP has backed plans to create a Rural Development Bank for Scotland.
The proposal, unveiled by the Scottish Conservatives at their UK Conservative Party Conference this week, would set up a new body dedicated to providing funding through loans and grants for investment in the agricultural sector and wider rural economy.
Mr Halcro Johnston, who is a former Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and who has long advocated a focused investment bank for rural Scotland, said it could be a real boost for farmers and rural businesses across the Highlands and Islands.
Mr Halcro Johnston said:
“The Highlands and Islands have been hit hard by the Central Belt focus of the current Scottish Government in Edinburgh. That’s seen funding and support directed to SNP pet projects in other parts of Scotland, and away from local businesses and economies here in our region."
“That’s why I’m fully behind Scottish Conservative plans for a Rural Development Bank - something I’ve long advocated - which would ensure that our farmers and rural communities know where to turn to for a dedicated source of funding. We know that we need thriving local economies, successful local businesses and well-paid local jobs to ensure our communities are vibrant and to help keep young people in the Highlands and Islands. And I believe that a Rural Development Bank – one which could unlock so much potential in the area – could be a big part of that."
“Devolution was supposed to empower localism by distributing decision-making, but also crucially by localising the funding to back it up too. Under the SNP, that just hasn’t been the case.
“It’s time for fresh thinking and grounded policy that will make a real difference to the economy of our area. That’s why I’m strongly backing the Scottish Conservative proposed Rural Development Bank. This could be a real game-changer.”