An under-pressure Nicola Sturgeon was slammed today for “one of the worst public spending disasters since devolution” over her government’s handling of the ferries scandal that has cost taxpayers £250 million already.
At First Minister’s Questions, Scottish Conservative Leader Douglas Ross raised the damming Audit Scotland report published yesterday on the SNP Government’s failure to build two lifeline ferries.
He accused the SNP of a “reckless waste” of taxpayers’ money, adding that the “painted-on windows of the ferries that Nicola Sturgeon visited in 2016 should have been a big enough clue that this decision was an absolute shocker”.
In response, the First Minister refused to launch a public inquiry into the fiasco. She defended the government’s decisions that have cost taxpayers £250 million without any working ferries being built yet.
Audit Scotland’s report, published yesterday, stated: “There is no documented evidence to confirm why Scottish ministers were willing to accept the risks of awarding the contract to FMEL, despite CMAL’s concerns. We consider that there should have been a proper record of this important decision.”
Scottish Conservative Leader Douglas Ross said: “This is one of the worst public spending disasters since devolution. It’s a reckless waste of Scottish taxpayers’ money - but we still don’t know exactly who signed off this disastrous contract.
“The body in Scotland charged with scrutinising public spending, Audit Scotland, can’t find a shred of evidence to justify the government’s decision to charge ahead without this contract against expert advice.
“The only scraps of paper left about this disastrous decision are the old SNP press releases claiming they saved Scottish shipbuilding.
“In the SNP’s secret Scotland, all the evidence about this decision has gone. We’re left with Nicola Sturgeon dodging responsibility and desperately trying to throw her disgraced ex-minister Derek Mackay under the bus.
“No wonder the SNP won’t agree to the public inquiry that’s necessary to establish why a key safeguard was removed from this contract, why the build of the ferries started before the design had even been agreed, and why Ferguson Marine got this contract in the first place.
“These ferries are two-and-a-half times over budget. Hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ money has already been wasted. There’s a five-year delay - at least. There’s still 175 faults with the ferries.
“The painted-on windows of the ferries that Nicola Sturgeon visited in 2016 should have been a big enough clue that this decision was an absolute shocker.
“There’s only one government building ships in Scotland that float - and it’s not Nicola Sturgeon's government.”