SCOTTISH firms could have bid for more work on the new Forth bridge if the contracts had been split into smaller parts, an economist has told MSPs.
Margaret Cuthbert said the way sub-contracts for the project had been advertised would be “inconceivable” in France or Germany.
Mrs Cuthbert, co-author of a report on public procurement in Scotland, said the large contracts could have been broken down into smaller lots, which would be permissible under EU law.
She also said the official figure of 75 per cent of contracts going to Scottish firms was not “soundly based” because some could have gone to foreign companies with Scottish addresses.
The Scottish Government’s Transport Scotland agency announced in January the bridge would be built of steel from China, Spain and Poland because no Scottish firm had bid for the order.
Transport minister Keith Brown has said the project was bringing “significant benefits” to 222 Scottish companies and he expected the number to grow significantly.