Nicola Sturgeon has said she does not regret the actions taken by the Scottish Government to save the Ferguson Marine shipyard.
It is despite the ferries having yet to be delivered and running significantly over-budget.
At the Scottish Parliament on Thursday, Derek Mackay gave evidence to MSPs at the Public Audit Committee on the decision to award the contract to build the ferries at the yard.
Mackay was transport minister between November 2014 and May 2016, during which time the contract was awarded.
He told MSPs that he would “take his share” of responsibility for awarding the contract.
However, he said he doesn’t think that “it all rests on me”, as he described it as a “catastrophic failure” that the ferries were unable to be completed.
At First Minister’s Question, Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross asked Nicola Sturgeon whether she regretted the money that had been spent on the ferries.
On Wednesday, deputy first minister John Swinney announced a more than £500m reduction in the Scottish Government’s spending plans.
Ross insisted that the money paid out on the construction of the two ferries could have been used to help tackle the cost of living crisis.
“First Minister, yesterday your government announced £560m of cuts,” said Ross.
“The cost of living crisis means difficult decisions for governments all over the country.
“But do you now regret that so much money was wasted on ferries that haven’t been built?
“A scandal that has so far cost taxpayers £250m when that money could have been used to address the cost of living crisis.”
The First Minister told Ross that the reason for making the spending reductions is so that public sector workers can receive a pay rise and so that resources are targeted.
“Yes, the deputy First Minister outlined savings that are having to be made in the Scottish Government’s budget this year,” she said.
“Let me remind the purpose of those savings. Firstly, so that we can ensure that public sector workers get the fairest possible pay rises.
“And secondly, that we continue to target resources to those who need them most in this cost of living crisis.
“So, that is the backdrop, a budget this year that because of inflation is worth £1.7bn less than it was when we published it.”
She added: “The other thing we need to see the new Prime Minister do is increase funding for devolved administrations so we can support public services and public sector workers.”
Sturgeon underlined the protection of jobs at the shipyard in defending the steps that were taken by the Scottish Government in awarding the contract.
“No, I don’t regret the actions this government took to save Ferguson’s Shipyard and to ensure that those working there still have a job, that is important,” she said.
“And of course, we will continue to take action to ensure that the two ferries are completed and that work continues.”
Ross said that islanders had been left without lifeline services.
He said: “Well, there we have it, it’s official – Nicola Sturgeon doesn’t regret wasting £250m of taxpayers’ money when that money is needed right now to help our services.
“Because if her government hadn’t wasted a quarter of a billion pounds trying and failing to build ferries, that money could have been used elsewhere in the SNP’s budget.
“These failures leave islanders without lifeline services and they take money away from the frontline spending we need here in Scotland.”
Sturgeon stated the importance in completing the overdue ferries.
“I have made clear on many occasions my regret at the cost overrun of that,” she said.
“That is why it is so important we continue to focus on completing the ferries.”