John Swinney’s budget ‘out of touch with reality’ - industry chiefs
THE Scottish Government’s claims that its spending plans in last week’s Budget would boost growth have been branded “out of touch with reality” by business chiefs today.
• John Swinney said his Scottish budget would spur growth
• Construction industry chiefs refute finance secretary’s claims
They warned that an absence of “shovel ready” major building projects being delivered by construction quango the Scottish Future’s Trust (SFT) and red tape is strangling Scotland’s flatlining economy.
Finance secretary John Swinney unveiled his spending plans for 2013/14 last Thursday, setting out an additional £180 million of cash for projects which he hailed as a Budget for “jobs and growth.”
But MSPs on Holyrood’s finance committee heard major doubts cast over the impact of the plans.
Michael Levack of the Scottish Building Federation said: “To suggest that this Budget or any budget at this time could be a Budget for growth in the construction sector, I think suggests that they’re out of touch with reality.
“Many construction businesses are in survival mode or at best recovery mode.
“We’ve got to get that message through because when we hear rhetoric from any political party to suggest otherwise quite frankly hurts people when they’ve lost their businesses.”
The SFT was set up by the Scottish Government to co-ordinate councils’, health boards’ and the Scottish Government’s spending on major building projects with the aim of securing the best deal for the taxpayer.
But Mr Levack warned that Scotland still has a “constipated” public procurement system.
“We must ensure that all projects that are there on the wish list on the Infrastructure Investment Plan, whether it be NPD or other, are actually coming to the market. Currently that isn’t the case.
“In terms of what the Scottish Future’s Trust is delivering on the ground it’s still very slow.
“We want the momentum to increase because it’s only when the shovel actually goes in the ground that we protect employment and create employment opportunities.”
Alan Watt, chief executive, CECA (Civil Engineering Contractors Association) Scotland hit out at the delay over the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route (AWPR) bypass road which was given the go ahead by Government in 2003, but is still mired in court objections without any construction work having yet taken place.
“The process that the Aberdeen Western Peripheral Route has gone through should never happen again,” he said.
“There should not be a minority with the ability to delay a project like this.”
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
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