It may sound like heresy but there were people who had serious doubts about bidding to bring the Commonwealth Games to Scotland in 2014.

Bitter memories remain of the debt-ridden 1986 Edinburgh Games and the fiasco of bully-boy Robert Maxwell’s intervention to “save” them. Not that having the taxpayer dig deeper to fund the event is unusual: the 1990 Auckland Games lost twice as much as Edinburgh and, more recently, the government had to put up £100m to bail out the 2002 Manchester Games.

This year’s Games in Delhi have been beset by controversy and, only a few weeks ago, it was reported not one of the 17 venues had been completed. The final bill is expected to be 280% over budget. At least the Manchester Games were hugely successful and played a large part in regenerating the city, bringing in investment and creating thousands of jobs.

They were part of the inspiration and justification for Scotland’s bid. The important word in that sentence is Scotland – although Glasgow will benefit most, the bid was made in Scotland’s name and it’s the Scottish taxpayer, not just those who live in the city, who will help pay for it.

That’s why Holyrood’s Public Audit Committee did an invaluable job last week in demanding explanations for the costs. It elicited information from officials which led Tory finance spokesman Derek Brownlee to comment despairingly that this was “just another project out of control” and Labour’s James Kelly to say it was “staggering” that inflation costs had not been factored into the budget.

There were reasons during the Games bidding process for not taking inflation into account, but whether they were sound reasons is another question.

If junketing were a Commonwealth Games sport, federation officials would be gold medal winners, but the number of times the event has been nowhere near the budget estimate suggests they should take a refresher course in basic arithmetic and find a formula allowing bidders accurately to reflect final costs.

Inept answers from the officials appearing before the Audit Committee did little to inspire confidence. Including a contingency fund of £80m, the budget currently stands at £454m. But an answer from Liz Hunter, the Scottish Executive’s director of equalities, social inclusion and sport, suggested the contingency fund would be used to mop up inflation.

That isn’t the understanding of senior people at Glasgow City Council who believe the additional money was to pay for unexpected circumstances such as building or technical problems.

No-one expected to find traces of asbestos on the site of the velodrome in the East End, for example, and that’s what the contingency cash is there for. It’s not just the evidence presented at Holyrood that should raise concerns about what is going on with the preparations. The north-west of England, having learned from the Manchester Games, is working hard to cash in on the 2012 London Olympics

by offering countries training in the area the chance to pre-book for the 2014 Scottish Games.

It’s good business practice and already Australia’s swimmers, athletes from Thailand and around a dozen nations from the Oceania group of countries in the Pacific are either interested or have already signed up to the deal.

Are these initiatives being matched in Scotland? Holyrood committees are often populated by too many inarticulate MSPs unable to formulate questions. However, the Public Audit Committee – and not for the first time under its convener, Hugh Henry – has delivered a wake-up call, on this occasion, to everyone involved in the organisation of Glasgow 2014.

A key part of the bid, the airport rail link, has probably gone for good and austerity will be the economic watchword between now and the Games. There is no scope for a spiralling budget. Mr Henry’s committee has identified serious weaknesses and he will revisit the subject. If it’s not too heretical, some other Holyrood committees might want to do the same.