THE Treasury has been asked to allow the Welsh Government to take out more public borrowing so other large schemes do not lose out if the M4 relief road goes ahead.

The Welsh Government is currently allowed to borrow up to £1 billion, or £150 million a year. But finance secretary Mark Drakeford has said he has written to chief secretary for the Treasury Elizabeth Truss asking for this limit to be increased.

The announcement has been made with a decision on the M4 relief road - currently predicted to cost £1.4 billion - expected to be made in the coming months.

Leader of the Welsh Conservatives Andrew RT Davies quizzed Mr Drakeford on the issue in the Assembly yesterday.

"Cost pressures, obviously, have increased dramatically over the anticipated costs of the relief road," he said.

"The Welsh Government's own figures are now £1.4 billion - that was the figure that was submitted to the public inquiry.

"How confident is the cabinet secretary that the £1.4 million that the Welsh Government supplied to the inquiry, if the inquiry finds in favour of this capital project, will be the final amount that he as finance secretary will have to find?

"And if that increased amount of money does have to be found, how confident is he that other capital projects in other parts of Wales won't suffer as a consequence?"

Responding, Mr Drakeford said: "That is the sum of money that I'm being asked to identify at present, and those funds are held in reserves for the M4 project awaiting the outcome of the ongoing inquiry.

"Because that is a project that will extend into the future, it is part of the reason that I have written to the chief secretary to the Treasury telling her that I will be looking for an extension to our borrowing powers for those future years in order that we can ensure, in the way that Andrew RT Davies has suggested, that if the M4 project goes ahead, we make that investment, it does not take place at the expense of other necessary investments in other parts of Wales."

Mr Drakeford, so far the only candidate to officially put themselves forward to replace Carwyn Jones as first minister, also said the Welsh Government has "a solid track record" of "looking for new and innovative ways of extending the pool of capital investment".

The M4 public inquiry is expected to publish its recommendations in the summer.