A further £1 billion is to be invested in Scottish housing, hospital, school and transport projects, John Swinney has announced.
The extra cash comes from extending the Scottish Government’s non-profit distributing (NPD) funding method, the Finance Secretary told MSPs.
He was also quizzed by opponents over when free childcare would be expanded.
During the announcement on how UK Budget cash will be allocated north of the border, Mr Swinney said every £100 million of construction activity is estimated to support more than 1,300 jobs.
New funding allocations include an extra £31m of capital funding over the next two years and an additional £12m resource funding to local government in 2015-16 to further fund free school meals for P1-3 pupils.
There will also be £10m for Help to Buy (Scotland) this year, a further £12m for youth employment initiatives such as Modern Apprenticeships and £2m over two years to provide welfare reform support.
Mr Swinney said: “Whenever there has been an opportunity to further invest in our economy, this Government has taken it. That is why I am pleased to announce today a number of measures that will boost our economy, create jobs, support skillsdevelopment and strengthen Scotland’s infrastructure.
“We will develop plans to extend our programme of NPD with an additional £1bn investment taking us to 2019/20.
“This investment will build on the successes of the current programme, delivering colleges, schools, roads, hospitals and community health facilities across Scotland. It will also provide the construction sector with the long-term certainty of a future pipeline of work.”
Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie hit out at the SNP’s commitment to deliver free childcare to 27% of two-year-olds still being short of levels in England and Wales.
He said: “It is disappointing that the expansion of childcare was a no-show in the Finance Secretary’s budget announcement.
“I want to bring childcare provision in line with that of England’s where 40 % of two year olds, beginning with those from poorer backgrounds, benefit from free childcare.”
Alison Johnstone, Greens, added that many school dining facilities are at capacity and some have no kitchens in which to prepare fresh food.
She added: “Providing a universalbenefit for our primary pupils makes plenty of sense but my research supports concerns I’ve long had about the capacity and quality of school facilities.”