Difficult financial decisions lie ahead for the Scottish Government due to the impact of the pandemic, the auditor general has said.
Stephen Boyle said the need to address backlogs in public services like the NHS and the courts will put pressure on finances.
In a blog post on the Audit Scotland website, he said the Scottish Government has so far spent more than £9 billion on the Covid-19 response, most of which had been funded through Barnett consequentials from the UK Government.
Mr Boyle noted £4.6 billion had been allocated from the UK Government for Scotland to spend on coronavirus this year, however unlike last year’s financial package the funding is not guaranteed.
The auditor general said: “Financial pressures are both acute and unpredictable.
“Alongside the costs of an ongoing public health crisis, increased spending is also needed to address backlogs in the NHS and the courts, and help education and the economy recover.
“The challenges to maintaining the long-term health of the public finances pre-date the pandemic.
“A continued focus on medium and long-term financial measures, alongside immediate responses, is essential.
“Managing volatility in the financial position will continue to be difficult, and pressures on the public purse may accumulate.
“Having a clear picture of how Scottish Government and UK Government initiatives are working together as the pandemic response changes is needed to properly understand the effectiveness of Covid-19 measures and to identify financial pressures.
“Effective communication and co-operation between governments will be central to this.”
He said Audit Scotland’s immediate focus would be on where pandemic money is being spent.
In the longer term, he said auditors would examine what impact the spending has made.