Senior managers at the beleaguered Ferguson Marine shipyard who received £87,000 in bonuses should hand the money back, Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross has said.
A report this week from the Auditor General found there is still no concrete figure for the completion of the much-delayed Glen Sannox and as-yet-unnamed hull 802 vessels, estimating the cost could rise above £300 million.
The ferries – which were originally expected to cost £97 million – are due to be completed in May of this year and March of next, five years later than scheduled.
Ferguson Marine was nationalised in 2019 after collapsing into administration, when issues with the ferries were discovered.
Auditor General Stephen Boyle’s report also revealed that six senior staff members received a total of £87,000 in bonuses in the 2021-22 financial year, without Government knowledge.
Describing the move as “unacceptable”, Mr Boyle said it was not clear why the bonuses were paid.
At First Minister’s Questions on Thursday, Mr Ross said the money should be returned.
He said: “We think (the bonuses) are downright scandalous, it’s indefensible, it’s a bonus for failure.
“Will the SNP Government and the First Minister intervene now and demand these bogus bonuses are returned to the taxpayer?”
Nicola Sturgeon replied: “In that report, the Auditor General is clear that the governance involved that led to these payments was deficient, in other words it’s not possible to be clear about the basis of these payments.
“That indeed is why changes have been put in place, new arrangements have been put in place to ensure that a situation like this doesn’t arise again.
“We take seriously and respond in full to the views in the section 22 report published by the Auditor General.”
She said the focus “continues to be on the completion of the ferries and that the Scottish Government applies robust scrutiny to all cost assessments that are issued by the shipyard”.
Mr Ross went on to ask why “fat cat” bosses were in receipt of bonuses before the ferries were delivered.
Asked by Mr Ross how much the ferries would cost and when they would be delivered, the First Minister admitted there have been “regrettable failings” at the yard, and added: “The estimates for cost and delivery of the ferries are in the public domain, they will be updated as appropriate.
“The Deputy First Minister (John Swinney) will give a further update to Parliament later this afternoon.
“I am of the view that the failures here are unacceptable, I deeply regret these failures, but that is why it is important that we continue to focus on delivering these ferries and also securing a long-term future for the shipyard.”
The Auditor General’s report cast doubt on the future viability of the yard, with its only income coming from the Scottish Government to complete the two ferries and the secondment of 18 of its employees to the Govan-based shipyard of defence giant BAE.
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