IN presenting his draft Budget and tax raising intentions, Finance Secretary Derek Mackay would have us believe that he is prudent and can be trusted with finances (“Mackay urged to use Budget to address child poverty”, The Herald, December 6).

When minister for transport and the islands, he ordered two new ferries for the Arran and Uig routes. The controversial and overly expensive vessels have been in Ferguson’s shipyard in Port Glasgow ever since. They were due to come into service in the summer of 2018 but it is unlikely that the first will see service before early 2020.

We have seen a further four ministers in that time come and go but it was Mr Mackay who was responsible for ordering the inappropriate, unduly complicated and overpriced vessels. Working to the minister’s instructions, Transport Scotland and its agents Caledonian Maritime Assets Ltd remain in dispute with the yard which, along with its backer, Jim McColl, threatens legal action.

With no staged payments being made to the yard for more than a year, pending resolution of the dispute, Mr Mackay as Finance Secretary awarded the yard loans to the tune of £48 million to help it develop and diversify. Has some of that money been used as working capital on construction the vessels rather than the purpose for which it was intended?

I suggest that, in ordering the vessels in one role and later baling out the project with a loan equal to 50 per cent of the contract’s value, with the vessels not yet in service, Mr Mackay’s financial management skills on a £96m project are brought into question. Can he be trusted with the national Budget and fiscal arrangements?

Neil HC Arthur,


Kilpatrick, Isle of Arran.