Chambers Ireland has called on the Government to make immediate changes to the public procurement process to facilitate SME involvement and benefit the economy as a whole. The call comes in advance of a meeting of stakeholders with the Office of Government Procurement.
As we know, SMEs in Ireland are extremely frustrated over how they are effectively excluded from many public procurement processes. Businesses that pay rates and wages in Ireland are undercut by overseas competitors that are not bound by the same terms and conditions. Some of the requirements to just apply for a tender are highly onerous and often automatically exclude local businesses from participating in local tenders. These excessive pre qualification requirements must be addressed by Government immediately. Similarly, the lack of feedback for businesses when they fail to win a tender, combined with the absence of an appeal procedure, are issues which could be easily solved.
MEAT (Most Economically Advantageous Tender) is held up as a template of best practice; however, decisions are all too frequently based on cost alone rather than other variables. Factors such as long term benefit to the economy, job creation and supporting indigenous business must be given greater consideration when assessing tenders. It is imperative that procurement is seen as a strategic asset for Ireland rather than a pure cost saving measure as it is now. There is a clear sense of anger and frustration amongst the SME community – which makes up over 99% of businesses in the State – that they are being sidelined by Government in favour of cheaper overseas options. Chambers Ireland launched A Strategic Procurement Policy for Ireland earlier this week;