The establishment of a Scottish National Infrastructure Company could spark the end for private financing of major projects within the country meaning companies like the now defunct Carillion would be axed from any future delivery.
Plans to put in place such a forum have been revealed by the Scottish National Party (SNP) at their annual party conference as part of a new infrastructure commission which will advise on strategic priorities to pursue as part of the £7bn boost in national infrastructure.
Delegates at the conference this week have voted overwhelmingly in favour of replacing privately financed schemes with a state-run infrastructure agency. Anne McLaughlin, a former MSP, told the audience that a public company would “keep building projects in the public sector for the public good”.
It follows from an announcement made last month by first minister Nicola Sturgeon which outlined a mission on infrastructure for an extra £7bn invested by 2025-26 in hospitals, schools, houses, transport, low carbon technology and digital connections.
An Infrastructure Commission would be formed to identify key strategic investments in Scotland to be made to boost economic growth and support public service, while A law would be introduced to pave the way for a Scottish National Investment Bank.
Infrastructure secretary Michael Matheson said first class infrastructure was vital for Scotland’s economic future and only by boosting spending would this priority be realised.
He added: “We have already committed to increasing Scotland’s infrastructure spending to internationally competitive levels, and in establishing an Infrastructure Commission we will ensure that our additional £7 billion investment delivers maximum benefits to our economy and public services. The Commission will also explore how we build our infrastructure by considering proposals for a publicly owned Scottish National Infrastructure Company that would be established with fair working conditions at its heart.”
The campaign coordinator for #SupportSNIC Rory Steel welcomed the announcement but wanted to see the Scottish National Infrastructure Company collaborate with others to ensure ambitions are met.
“Announcing a Commission to look into the creation of a SNIC is a fantastic move that could revolutionise how we build and manage our infrastructure,” Steel added. “The devil will be in the detail, however we hope that SNIC will team up with the National Investment Bank and other partners to drive private financial interests out of public infrastructure. For far too long, private pockets have been lined with public money under Public-Private Partnerships to the tune of billions. A SNIC can ensure quality infrastructure for the public need under Public-Public Partnerships."