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Minister Donohoe’s ‘new proposals’ are old procurement regulations he failed to implement – Jonathan O’Brien TD

12 February, 2019 - by Jonathan O'Brien TD

Sinn Féin’s Deputy spokesperson for Public Expenditure and Reform Jonathan O’Brien TD has criticised Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe’s ‘new proposals’ for public procurement as "nothing more than old guidelines he has failed to implement".

Speaking this evening the Cork North-Central TD Deputy O'Brien said:

“The Minister’s statement today outlining a ‘new strategy’ for public procurement was an consummate Fine Gael exercise in spin.

"There is nothing new about these proposals. In fact, they are within EU procurement guidelines that his Department and this government has abysmally failed to implement.

“At last week’s Health committee, I asked Department officials and the Minister if they had heard of abnormally low tenders, or considered disqualifying bids on that basis. I was met with silence.

“I was troubled by this response and raised the issue of EU procurement law which allows for disqualification based on abnormally low tenders.

"Abnormally low tenders are warning signs for uninformed contractors underbidding for contracts with the likely consequence of cost escalations thereafter.

“This government has paid no head to these regulations since they were adopted, and the scandal of the National Children’s Hospital is one consequence of this complacence.

“I am glad Ministers Harris and Donohoe have heeded my advice but I would ask him to go further.

“Since 2002, Sinn Féin worked with partners in the North to implement a framework for procurement policy.

"Among these were explicit guidelines adopted by the Northern Executive and departments in 2016 to regulate and if necessary disqualify abnormally low tenders.

“I therefore invite Minister Donohoe to reach out to Sinn Féin for advice on how to implement similar guidelines to those we implemented in the North.

“However, the scale of incompetence at the heart of this government and its procurement policy and oversight calls into question its ability to implement guidelines.

“For that reason I have submitted a Regulation of Tenderers Bill that would set guidelines adopted by Sinn Féin in the North on a statutory footing in the South.

“In the field of procurement, this government has exposed itself as wholly incapable.”

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