As part of a programme of engagement with local businesses, the Scottish National Party's Mr Pete Wishart, Member of Parliament for Perth & North Perthshire, has visited Edradour Distillery and Inveralmond Brewery in his constituency in recent days. Both companies have their eyes firmly fixed on the upcoming Budget Statement from the Chancellor of the Exchequer and Mr Wishart said:
"I am trying to visit as wide a range of local businesses as possible to discuss whatever challenges they may facing and how various policy decision might affect their business,
"With the Budget just over a fortnight away it was useful for me over the past few days to visit a couple of local businesses with a very close interest in what decisions the Chancellor might make.
"The food and drink sector is an extremely important one for Scotland and for Perthshire in particular. We have a great many diverse companies creating top quality products. Inveralmond Brewery and Edradour Distillery are excellent examples of that.
"At Inveralmond, we talked, amongst other things, about the beer duty escalator which was introduced by the last Government in 2008, and after a strong campaign, of which I was a big supporter, was scrapped in last year's budget.
"What it meant was that beer duty was automatically increased by 2% above inflation every single year. As a result, tax on beer had gone up by over 40% since 2008 and pubs were really struggling.
"If pubs are closing, breweries lose important customers. With the pub trade still very fragile, they will be looking for further support this year."
"I also visited Edradour Distillery, which is much longer established as a company than Inveralmond but, similarly, has carved out a niche for itself as a small producer in a market dominated by some real corporate giants
"In many ways, the whisky industry is doing well. Exports sales are doing exceptionally well but it is extremely important as we approach the Budget that the Chancellor of the Exchequer listens to what the industry is telling him and freezes duty on spirits.
"If he does not then he will be causing the industry great difficulty as they try and build up the domestic market."