Letters: Economic growth

MY CONGRATULATIONS to Alex Neil on his appointment as Cabinet secretary for infrastructure and capital investment, (your report, 20 May).

This new post demonstrates the importance of the construction industry to the Scottish Government and to the Scottish economy. It is also a significant move towards the Scottish Building Federation's call for the appointment of a dedicated Scottish construction minister.

Mr Neil will have many challenges to confront. Contrary to what official statistics might suggest, the construction industry still faces difficulties. With public budgets facing significant cuts, the drive for improved efficiency in public procurement must be balanced with the need to maintain sustainable, high- quality results when building new schools, hospitals, housing and infrastructure.

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Recent public procurement decisions which have failed to deliver community benefits are another area of concern. Community benefit clauses need to be introduced into the tendering process. This should ensure that those building firms providing local employment and apprenticeship opportunities are better able to compete successfully for new public contracts. I look forward to seeing the SNP's promised sustainable procurement bill brought forward.

The construction industry wishes Mr Neil every success and looks forward to working with him to help build sustainable recovery.


Chief executive

Scottish Building Federation

Crichton's Close, Edinburgh

Your editorial (20 May) is fairly reasoned in argument and makes a good point about the hard task ahead of Mr Neil. I think he will do it well, by the way. What I find hard to stomach is your reference to PFI.

PFI is one of the most ridiculous concepts ever invented. Governments in strong countries are envied by private companies in their ability to raise finance cheaper than any private company can ever hope to do. PFI has been proven to hugely profitable for private consortia which run them and bad business for the government.


Gylemuir Road