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Nicola Sturgeon still refuses to give straight answers on ferries scandal

Nicola Sturgeon has refused to say what the final bill will be for the SNP’s ferries scandal or when the two Ferguson Marine vessels will finally be completed.

At First Minister’s Questions, Douglas Ross probed her on this week’s damning Audit Scotland report which highlighted that bonuses are being awarded to Ferguson Marine bosses despite the costs of the project continuing to rise and the ferries remaining under construction.

The Scottish Conservative leader said it was “scandalous” that any bonuses were being paid when the ferries were six years late and, so far, three-and-a-half times over the original £97million budget.

But Nicola Sturgeon offered no explanation or justification for the bonuses. She was also unable to put a figure on the final bill the taxpayer will foot, or when hulls 801 and 802 will finally begin serving Scotland’s islands.

 

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said: “The SNP ferry scandal has damaged our nation’s reputation for shipbuilding excellence, and left islanders without vital transport links they rely on.

“Audit Scotland said this week ‘the costs to complete these ferries have continued to escalate’.

“The total cost to taxpayers, because of SNP incompetence, is now £338 million – 3.5 times more than the original contract of £97 million, and there’s still no completion date for the ferries.

“Ferguson Marine has paid out bonuses of £87,000 to highly-paid chiefs. And today there are reports that the current chief executive can get an £82,000 bonus every year and that his contract has no criteria for measuring performance.

“This is downright scandalous, it’s indefensible. This is a bonus for failure – and this failure is all on the SNP Government. Ferguson Marine is owned by ministers, they’re ultimately in charge of it.

“Audit Scotland also said that ‘there is still no certainty over how much the ferries will cost, when they will be ready or whether the shipyard has a viable future’.

“As Nicola Sturgeon prepares to sail off into retirement, she needs to tell the public when these ferries will finally be ready – and what the final price for them will be.

“She singularly failed to do so, and instead passed the buck to John Swinney. That’s simply unacceptable – the First Minister can’t wash her hands of one of the worst scandals of her time in office.”