FOREWORD BY THE FIRST MINISTER
1. Since we first formed a minority administration in May 2007 we have been working hard to provide an ambitious, competent, and united government for Scotland. The Scottish people placed their trust in us again in May and we are determined that over these next five years we repay that trust and take our nation forward.
2. In this Programme for Government we set out the steps we will take in the year ahead as we deliver on our commitment to make Scotland better. During the election we said securing and creating jobs would be at the heart of our plans. We spoke of new opportunities for young Scots and a determination to make our nation fairer. Those ambitions are reflected in these plans for our first year as a majority Scottish Government.
3. The overarching Purpose of this Government remains unchanged. We will focus government and public services on creating a more successful country, with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish, through increasing sustainable economic growth.
4. Accelerating the economic recovery and securing jobs for our people is our immediate task. Our people remain our greatest asset and we will produce measures aimed in particular at helping young Scots to ensure they have guaranteed opportunities for education and training as they take their first steps to build a life, a family and a future. We will take forward with focus and determination our plan to secure Scotland's economic recovery and will champion the transition to a low carbon economy to ensure Scotland seizes our unique opportunity to become a world leader in renewable technologies.
5. We are committed to a 'Social Wage' for Scots - helped in great part by our decision to freeze council tax and by meeting our commitments on no bridge tolls and free concessionary travel, prescription charges and personal care. We will keep university education free for Scottish students so that access to higher education is based on the ability to learn, not the ability to pay.
6. Our approach is based on continuing to do the job of government well. During this Parliamentary session we will introduce legislation on minimum pricing for alcohol, for the reform of police and fire services, for tackling sectarianism and for implementing self-directed social care. In response to the Christie Commission's recommendations, we will reform our public services with a decisive shift towards prevention, partnership working, effective leadership and transparency around performance.
7. Our approach to Government is inclusive and based on engagement. We should all have the opportunity to shape our future, and we will reflect this in the way we shape our services. Ours is a diverse nation of abundant talent and a history famed for innovation and creativity. We will foster those approaches in business and in society, including in our public services - developing the capabilities of public servants to match their commitment.
8. Scotland has elected to choose the future it wants and to forge its own path as a responsible nation. Our national ambitions are held back by constitutional constraints. The case to remove these constraints is irresistible and, given the record of this government, we know we could do even more with the full range of powers and levers available to a modern state. We will press the UK Government hard on the provisions of the Scotland Bill, securing the best possible outcome for Scotland with a devolved Government. But we strongly believe that the case for independence is overwhelming and rests in our capacity to build a better society and a stronger economy.
9. Scotland faces a number of challenges as we move forward - but also opportunities. This Programme for Government is ambitious for Scotland and is designed to make the most of our resources and opportunities. I believe the people and the Parliament stand ready to work together to address the challenges and make the right choices to change Scotland for the better.
The Rt. Hon. Alex Salmond MSP
The First Minister of Scotland