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by Louise Wilson
16 March 2023
Douglas Ross calls for ferry shipyard bonuses to be repaid

Douglas Ross: "Why are fat cat bosses getting a single penny before the ferries are finished?" | Alamy

Douglas Ross calls for ferry shipyard bonuses to be repaid

Bonuses being handed to managers at the shipyard building the two delayed and over-budget ferries is “downright scandalous”, Douglas Ross has said.

The Scottish Conservative leader has urged the government to intervene to ensure the £87,000 paid out is returned.

Audit Scotland published a report earlier this week labelling these bonuses “unacceptable”.

The report said it was unclear how the performance had been assessed or whether appropriate frameworks were in place.

Speaking at FMQs today, Ross pressed the First Minister on what the bonuses were for.

Nicola Sturgeon said her government does “acknowledge the legitimate issues that have been raised” in the report.

“New arrangements have been put in place… to ensure that that doesn’t arise in the future,” she added.

But Ross said the payment is “indefensible” and “a bonus for failure”. He urged the First Minister to “intervene now and demand these bogus bonuses are returned to the taxpayer”.

“Why are fat cat bosses getting a single penny before the ferries are finished?” he asked.

The First Minister said the failure to complete the ferries on time and on budget was a matter the government “deeply" regrets.

“Focus continues to be on ensuring completion of the ferries and the Scottish Government applies robust scrutiny to all cost assessments that are issued by the shipyard,” she said.

The two ferries were commissioned in 2015 with a delivery date for 2017. Neither vessel has yet entered service and costs have ballooned.

The Scottish Government took the shipyard into public ownership at the end of 2021.

Completing the ferries is now expected to cost more than £200m more than the initial price tag.

Elsewhere at FMQs, Labour’s Anas Sarwar raised issues with accessible dentists and said it was proof the health secretary was “incompetent and out of his depth”.

Humza Yousaf is currently in the running to replace Nicola Sturgeon as leader of the SNP and first minister.

Sarwar said: “The health secretary has lost the confidence of dentists and patients. He has lost the confidence of the SNP finance secretary. Surely even Nicola Sturgeon can see that Scotland has no confidence in him, and he’s not up to the top job.”

Sturgeon replied: “Ultimately, of course, it’s the Scottish people who will make these judgements and the record of past years is one that I know terrifies Anas Sarwar.”

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