Fine Gael Meath West TD and Chairman of the Oireachtas Jobs Committee, Damien English, has said that proposals from Chambers Ireland on how to improve our public procurement system are worthy of serious consideration.
“Chambers Ireland has put forward a number of interesting proposals on how we can improve public procurement for the benefit of the economy. The Government has already taken a number of steps to make it easier for companies to bid for, and win, public contracts, but the Chambers’ proposals are worth serious consideration.
“In particular, I support Chambers’ suggestion that price alone should not be the only consideration when contracts are being awarded, and that the number of jobs created here when a tender is awarded should be taken on board.
“A ‘positive discrimination’ of sorts towards Irish firms could help to encourage government departments to consider the wider implications of the contracts they are awarding. For instance; will jobs be created here as a result? If a contract is awarded to a firm which is not based in Ireland, how much money are we missing out on in terms of lost tax revenues?
“Public procurement is big business. It’s estimated that the Government will spend about €9 billion on the procurement of supplies and services this year. This represents the single biggest market opportunity for Irish SMEs, but 90% of small Irish businesses are not competing for public sector tenders.
“A considerable proportion of public contracts is being won by non-Irish companies. Anything that we can do to help Irish companies get a bigger slice of the action must be seriously considered.
“The Government upgraded its dedicated website (etenders.gov.ie) to streamline the tendering process and make it easier for Irish firms to win State contracts and a number of other reforms have been implemented to open up the process. However, we must constantly strive to do better in order to ensure that Irish firms have the best possible chance to win State contracts.”