The Scottish Government has again delayed the appointment of a successor to Lord Smith of Kelvin as chair of the country's national economic development agency.

Ministers have extended the tenure of Scottish Enterprise interim chair Willie Mackie until the end of the year. Mr Mackie, who has had an extensive career in financial services, was first appointed interim chairman on August 1, 2022, following the departure of Lord Smith in July of that year. Last June his contract was extended by a further three months until March 31, and has now been pushed out to December 31.

The decision to extend Mr Mackie’s contract may lead to questions as to why it is taking so long to find a permanent appointment for the role. Lord Smith received remuneration of £49,050 for his duties as chairman in the year ended March 31, 2023.

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The Scottish Government said the extension of Mr Mackie’s contract will “ensure continuity” while it continues to search for a permanent chairman. It noted that the job description will “will reflect the specialist skills required to oversee implementation of the agency’s new strategic approach launched by the First Minister in January”.

Wellbeing Economy Secretary Màiri McAllan said: “Scottish Enterprise plays a key role in driving our economic objectives and my priority is getting the right person for the job. I am pleased that Willie Mackie has agreed to extend his role as interim chair as we continue the process to appoint a permanent chair.

“It is essential that the successful candidate possesses the skills and experience to deliver on the aims set out in the agency’s new strategic approach. These clear priorities, which reflect the changing wider financial and public sector landscape, will enable Scottish Enterprise to build on its recent achievements.

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“These include creating or safeguarding 75,000 jobs over the past five years, supporting projects expected to deliver £2.5 billion of capital investment and helping maintain Scotland’s position as the most popular UK location outside London for inward investment.”