Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has today challenged the First Minister over her party's mishandling of a series of major government investments and pressed her over thousands of jobs promised for the Lochaber aluminium smelter in Scotland.
On the situation in Lochaber, Mr Rennie said:
“When the GFG alliance took over the aluminium smelter and power station in Lochaber in 2016 it received a Scottish Government guarantee worth £570million. The company promised to build an aluminium wheel factory creating up to 2000 jobs and adding £1 billion to the local economy. They said the plan was oven ready.
“Five years later there’s no wheel factory. They said they’d invest in a new aluminium bottle plant. That’s not happened either.
"With GFG's financial backer in trouble, the First Minister conspicuously failed to offer any guarantees that these jobs would be secured for the Highlands."
On the SNP's economic record, he added:
“Five years ago, the First Minister went to the smelter, had her photograph taken and said it was boom time. She had her picture taken outside BiFab, backed by tens of millions of pounds, but that didn’t work out either. Five years ago, she had signed a deal and had another photo with the Chinese Company SinoFortone. She told parliament it was worth a ten-billion-pound deal but they only owned a pub near Oxford.
“There have been lots of selfies, lots of taxpayers money but no new jobs. The First Minister owes a proper explanation for why government gave a 30-year guarantee allowing a private company to take a profit but did not create the promised jobs and what the cost of her disastrous handling of Scotland's economy has been."