Finance Secretary Derek Mackay has described the suggestion he will be remembered as the man who bankrupted Scotland as “absolute total nonsense”.
Conservative MSP Alexander Burnett made the claim as Holyrood’s Finance and Constitution Committee quizzed Mr Mackay on the Scottish Government’s budget for 2019/20.
Mr Burnett said in previous sessions, the committee has heard that by 2021/22 the Scottish finance minister will be starting with a negative reconciliation of £472 million, and under Mr Mackay’s proposals the maximum allowed from the reserves will have been drawn down.
The Tory MSP said: “The simple question here is, will you be writing a letter for your successor that there’s no money left?
“And if it is the case, is it true to say your legacy will be to have single-handedly bankrupted Scotland?”
The Finance Secretary replied: “Absolutely not and that’s absolute total nonsense.
“The catastrophic circumstance that Mr Burnett has outlined will not come to pass.”
He said the forecast would “inevitably change” but the Scottish Government “has produced balanced budgets and will continue to do so”.
Fellow Conservative Murdo Fraser questioned whether Mr Mackay will find “hidden cash” to help broker a deal with the Greens to pass the budget.
Mr Fraser said: “We’ve got used over the last couple of years to a pattern of activity around the budget where you publish your budget in December and tell us that’s all the money there is.
“And then we get to the stage one debate, usually at the end of January or February, and miraculously you’ve discovered a whole lot more money lying around that you didn’t know about in December and you use that to lubricate your budget deal, usually with the Scottish Green Party.
“So my question is this, how much money have you got hidden away this year that you are going to suddenly produce in a few weeks’ time that you haven’t told us about yet?”
Mr Mackay said he had “fully allocated the resources at disposal” but his door is open to opposition parties to strike a deal by putting forward proposals.
He said these alternative proposals would be funded by removing resources from one area and allocating them elsewhere, or through an “alternative tax proposition”.
Meanwhile, Labour’s James Kelly questioned the minister on whether he believes it is fair that everyone earning up to £124,375 will be paying less tax under the current budget proposals.
Mr Kelly said: “You think it’s fair that Government ministers, managing directors, chief executives on salaries of around £100,000 are paying less tax as a result of your budget?”
Mr Mackay replied the tax policy he has proposed is “fair and progressive”.