Douglas Ross tells Scottish Government to 'open the books'

The Scottish Conservatives want to introduce measures to help ensure value for money for taxpayers.

Douglas Ross aiming to increase transparency over Scottish Government spending decisions STV News

A lack of financial transparency from the SNP is “holding Scotland back”, according to Douglas Ross.

The Scottish Conservative leader made the claim as his party brought forward a proposal seeking to end the “secrecy” around public spending.

But, the SNP accused Ross’ party of “rank hypocrisy” as they hit back over spending by No 10.

A Member’s Bill has been set out by the Scottish Conservatives which would put in place measures which aim to ensure better value for money for taxpayers.

It includes a requirement for the Scottish Government to publish a quarterly update of the Budget, including a statement from the country’s finance secretary.

The Bill would also require ministers to publish monthly data on the uptake an pay-outs from each fund that it operates.

And they would need to publish a ‘value-for-money’ statement ahead of taking ownership of any private enterprise.

The party is also seeking to improve transparency and post-legislative scrutiny of the annual Budget Bill under their proposals.

Ross set out the plans ahead of the Scottish Conservative conference, taking place in Aberdeen, which begins on Friday.

“The public should be able to find out how every penny of their money is spent,” Ross explained.

“Our Open the Books Bill would strengthen financial transparency and government accountability. 

“Too often, the vast sums that the SNP have at their disposal is shrouded in secrecy.  

“We’ve all seen SNP ministers insist that they’re skint, only to hastily find another hundred million to spend. “

Ross also pointed to the findings of Audit Scotland who said that a detailed analysis of how billions of pounds in emergency funding were paid out during the pandemic by the Government is “not possible” due to gaps in data.

He continued: “Just this week, Audit Scotland highlighted serious flaws in the transparency of Covid business grants, caused by a lack of information.

“There is a pressing need to open the books so that taxpayers can get better value for money.”

Ross added: “We’re building the real alternative to the SNP, so we can end the secrecy that is holding Scotland back.” 

SNP MSP Audrey Nicoll hit back at the Scottish Conservatives over their proposals.

“The rank hypocrisy of the Tories preaching about open finances is simply staggering,” she said.

“Their government has presided over the rampant cronyism of handing out Covid contracts to their friends, family and party donors, the murky issue of Boris Johnson’s Downing Street refurbishment, the endless flow of dirty Russian cash into their party coffers and stuffing the House of Lords with the likes of Lebedev.

“The Tories ‘one rule for them and another for everyone else’ does not wash with the people of Scotland, who refuse to overlook dodgy Tory finances or forgive their partying Prime Minister – even if Douglas Ross is happy to.”

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