Welsh business leaders have welcomed the appointment of Mark Drakeford as the new first minister of Wales.
Mr Drakeford was nominated as first minister by AMs on Wednesday, following his victory in the Welsh Labour leadership contest last week.
In a ceremony held yesterday in Cardiff Bay, the previous Finance Secretary was officially sworn in. Mr Drakeford has replaced Carwyn Jones, who recently stood down after nine years in the position.
Commenting on the news that Mark Drakeford has been nominated as the First Minister of Wales, Ben Francis, FSB Wales Policy Chair, said:
“On behalf of FSB, I’m pleased to congratulate Mark Drakeford on his nomination as First Minister of Wales. We have enjoyed a very positive relationship with Mark in his previous post and look forward to working closely with him as he takes on this vitally important role.
“There is no doubt that it is a challenging time in which to take up such an appointment but we trust that our new First Minister will seek a close and meaningful partnership with business to drive the economy forward and protect the interests of and promote the opportunities for the Welsh economy. There is so much potential presented by the wealth, talent and experience of Welsh small businesses and so harnessing that and growing that community of indigenous, grounded businesses should be a priority.
“We are moving into an environment in which Wales will need to redouble its efforts to positively project itself in the world and Welsh business is up for this challenge. We wish our new First Minister every success in his new role”
Councilor Andrew Morgan, Chair of the Cardiff Capital Region Cabinet, said:
“The Regional Cabinet congratulates Mark Drakeford AM on his election as the next First Minister of Wales and looks forward to working with him and his new Cabinet.
“The Welsh Government is a partner in the Cardiff Capital Region City Deal, and we have worked closely over the past three years to put in place a strategy to achieve significant social and economic improvements in the South Wales region over the next 20 years.
“There is no doubt we face challenges in achieving this, but continued collaborative working between Welsh Government and the ten authorities who comprise this City Deal will ultimately bring about a step-change in people’s lives across this region.
“In particular, we look forward to working closely with Welsh Government and Transport for Wales to bring about the £734million South Wales Metro. This is a fantastic opportunity to create and deliver a transport infrastructure which supports the aims of the City Deal.
“The Cardiff Capital Region is growing at an exceptional rate, and it is absolutely critical that we create a transport infrastructure which can accommodate and connect passengers travelling around the region safely.
“Connecting our people and communities with places of work and services has never been so important – not just to enable economic growth, but also social cohesion and improved quality of life across the region. We look forward to achieving this in partnership with the new First Minister and his colleagues.”
Robert Lloyd Griffiths, Director, IoD Wales, said:
“Now that it is confirmed that Mark Drakeford will be our next First Minister, it’s time to look forward to how this will impact IoD members, as well as the wider business community. This is a critical time for the Welsh economy, and we will be speaking with our members in the coming weeks to find out their priorities, of which we expect Brexit and the M4 relief road to be high on the list.
“For South Wales businesses, the M4 is the artery leading in and out of South Wales and it is imperative that the new First Minister makes the long talked about relief road a reality. In terms of the North, we look forward to seeing what plans the First Minister has for the North Wales Growth Deal, and how he will work with the UK Government to deliver real change for our many North Wales members.
“We at the IoD wish the new First Minister all the best as he takes on this challenging new role, and look forward to working with him and his colleagues.”
CBI Director, Ian Price, commented:
“The CBI welcome the appointment of Mark Drakeford as First Minister. We congratulate him on a hard fought campaign.
“Business has always benefited from close partnership working with the Welsh Government on issues of joint importance. We look forward to that relationship continuing under a new First Minister.
“With a no-deal Brexit still a possibility, our first priority for the new Welsh Government is to continue to ensure Wales’ voice is heard. It is important that we protect the UK single market and make the UK Shared Prosperity Fund work for Wales.
“Secondly, the new First Minister should publish the public inquiry into the M4 relief road so everyone can make an evidence based decision on the Black Route. For the CBI, the decision is clear. Due to the pressing need and strong return on investment, the Black Route should be built.
“Welsh productivity remains the lowest in the UK after 18 years of devolution. With income tax being devolved from April 2019, the money the Welsh Government can invest in public services will be directly impacted by the performance of the economy. The new First Minister should put in place a whole-government response to automation and the fourth industrial revolution to ensure we minimise the risks and maximise all future growth opportunities.
“Finally, with income tax, stamp duty, business rates, landfill tax and council tax in the hands of Welsh Government, the new First Minister should ensure Wales has a strong reputation for tax competitiveness and introduce Wales-only taxes as a last resort not a first response.”