The Confederation of British Industry has called on politicians to pursue pro-growth, pro-jobs, pro-business agenda, saying that the business vote in the forthcoming election is "up for grabs".
As it unveiled it campaign 'wish list', the employers' organisation said that the next parliamentary session would be vital for the future of British business. And it argued that the UK's infrastructure and skills-base must be improved to combat competitive pressure from China and India.
Director-General Sir Digby Jones said: "I want the voice of business to be at the heart of the 2005 general election. Business is the only wealth creator in our society. UK jobs depend on business succeeding in the UK.
"UK public services depend on the tax paid by UK business. The government of the day must provide the support and conditions firms need to succeed.
"The business vote is up for grabs and deserves to be fought for," he added. "Each political party should pursue a pro-growth, pro-jobs, pro-business agenda."
In its Business Agenda, which lays down the action needed to maintain the long-term competitiveness of the UK economy, the CBI urged the next government to look beyond the immediate four-to-five-year election cycle and provide sustained, long-term investment.
It called for at least £300bn of public and private investment needed to be made in the UK's transport infrastructure over the next decade and 2.5 per cent of GDP to be spent on research and development by 2014.
It was also crucial that significant investment be made in improving the basic skills of 15 million adults.
On the vexed question of red tape, the Business Agenda called for each political party to publish a business impact assessment alongside their election commitments and demanded that the UK be protected from the damage that would be caused by European Directives on working time and agency temps.
It also argues for a reduction in the business tax burden, a new fiscal 'Golden Rule' to prevent public sector spending exceeding 40 per cent of GD and urges government to implement the recommendations of the Gershon and Lyons Reviews to improve public sector efficiency and productivity.
"The next government must remove barriers to economic success, not create new ones," Sir Digby said. "Wealth creation and entrepreneurships has to be encouraged."