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Finance Committee Chair welcomes findings of Public Procurement Inquiry

23 February, 2010 - by Jennifer McCann

Speaking ahead of an assembly debate on the findings of the Public Procurement Inquiry, Sinn Fein MLA and Chair of the Committee for Finance & Personnel Jennifer Mc Cann said:

"Small & Medium sized businesses make up the vast majority of businesses in the local economy here, moreover 95% of local firms can be categorised as "micro-Businesses employing less than 10 people. Yet almost three quarters of micro businesses don't even apply for public procurement contracts as they feel the system is weighted against them.

"Government spend on supplies,services and construction work accounts for one quarter of the executive's annual spend per year. When local government spend is added it amounts to upwards of £3 billion pounds per year in the North and a total of £15.2 billion pounds per year on an all island basis.

"I believe that this level of Government expenditure is an important lever which the executive could use in a more strategic way to sustain the social and economic wellbeing of our community.

"This is particularly important given the public spending constraints imposed by the economic recession we find ourselves in. Public Procurement Policy needs to bedelivered with the minimum of bureauocracy to encourage small and micro businesses and social economy enterprises to compete for public procurement contracts and enable them to compete for the higher value contracts.

"The overarching aim of this report is to make reccommendations that will identify ways for maximising the wider economic and social benefits for local communities from every pound spent by the executive on buying goods, services and works.

"Local SME's and the Social Economy Sector make an important and significant contribution to the local economy as well as employment opportunities and community regeneration in areas of social need.

"The social value of public spending is important and I welcome the fact that some of the reccommendations in this report call for the targeted use of social clauses, and for a model of measuring social value in procurement policy.

"The purpose of the report and the reccommendations it makes is to ensure that there are positive social, economic and environmental outcomes for local communities in all public expenditure."

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