The Shadow Minister for Finance – Welsh Conservative Assembly Member Paul Davies – has called for urgent clarity on the acquisition of Cardiff Airport.
His concerns follow today’s National Assembly Finance Committee - within which the Minister was questioned on the way the airport was bought – and the money used to do it.
Welsh Government contingency funds – or reserves – paid for the purchase, while the Finance Minister today confirmed that an emergency mechanism was used to complete the purchase.
Rather than producing a supplementary budget – analysed by Assembly Members – a section of the Government of Wales Act 2006 was used to obtain contingency funds and swiftly purchase the shareholding of Cardiff International Airport without the need for Assembly scrutiny.
Mr Davies – who is also Deputy Leader of the Welsh Conservative group - said:
“There are extremely serious concerns here over openness and transparency.
“By forcing this purchase through via an emergency mechanism, Labour ministers have effectively sidestepped both a vote on the deal – and full scrutiny.
“Contingency funds are there to help the people of Wales should the unexpected occur. Today’s confirmation of the way in which they have been used will rightly worry many.
“This sets an extremely dangerous precedent that I fear has shoved public debate and transparency to one side – in favour of a quick deal behind closed doors.”
Shadow Minister for Transport, Byron Davies AM, said:
“The Minister’s confirmation of the process behind the deal will trouble anyone who believes in integrity and transparency.
“Buying an airport is one thing. Doing it without full scrutiny – when that avenue is easily available – is calculating and evasive.
“Welsh Conservatives accept the purchase of the airport and have produced a detailed plan to grow it, sell it, and reimburse the taxpayer.
“We cannot accept such serious questions over openness and transparency within their purchase process.”