Wednesday, 3 July 2013
· SFA tells Oireachtas new Government purchasing policies will be detrimental to local small businesses
· SFA concerned over small firms access to public sector contracts
“New Government buying policies have the potential to eliminate small businesses from the tendering process, resulting in business closures, job losses, regional imbalance and ultimately less competition in the marketplace.”, AJ Noonan, Chairman, Small Firms Association.
The Small Firms Association Chairman AJ Noonan informed the Oireachtas at a special briefing on the tendering for public contracts, that small firms will effectively be prohibited from tendering, in the move to centralise Government procurement into large-scale contracts.
Mr Noonan said, “New Government buying policies on procurement have the potential to eliminate small businesses from the tendering process, resulting in business closures, job losses, regional imbalance and ultimately less competition in the marketplace.
“Government policy on the need to save money in public procurement, whilst valid, should be clearly aligned to its enterprise support and job creation agenda. In its pursuit of the cheapest price, the Government is neglecting the fact that this will not deliver either the quality, cost in use savings or service levels it desires, but will result in lost jobs.”
“Centralised, large aggregated contracts make it increasingly more difficult for small innovative companies to compete. There are difficulties in small firms collaborating to make joint tender bids, as they may fall foul of competition law and do not have the necessary skills.
“SMEs have concerns around competition given the pre-qualification criteria and the request for unnecessary information with no recognition given to the SME environment which has limited resources available. The Government should delay the roll-out of the National Framework process until these issues have been addressed satisfactorily.”
Noonan stated that it is essential that the new purchasing system is designed from a think small first perspective, and that actions are put in place to remove the barriers against small businesses.
SFA called on a full appeals mechanism to be implemented, which would include mandatory feedback on all lost tenders, more scrutiny and transparency throughout the system, an internal appeals procedure in each department and the opportunity to appeal to an Ombudsman.
“Public procurement is an essential element of delivering better public services in Ireland. Effective procedures ensure value for money for taxpayers and the efficient allocation of resources. Small businesses provide a valuable contribution to the needs of the public sector through innovation, responsiveness and quality. By allowing small Irish firms access to this market, enables them to contribute to job maintenance and economic growth.
“The State currently spends €6.9bn on public procurement goods and services each year. The Government should publish data on the value and volume of contracts awarded to Irish vs. overseas companies and by company size. The results should be benchmarked internationally, and appropriate targets set for procurers here on SME market share”, concluded Mr Noonan.
For interviews, please contact: AJ Noonan, SFA Chairman at Tel: 086-2592610.