The north’s finance minister has responded to a Derry MLA’s claims that only 13% of local companies who tendered for government work in the city were successful.
Sammy Wilson says SDLP MLA Pat Ramsey’s claims are misleading.
Earlier this week Mr Ramsey expressed his concern after he said official figures showed only 13% of all tenders advertised by the Department of Finance for work in Derry has been awarded to local companies.
“I am appalled that of 646 expressions of interest by companies based in the Foyle constituency for local tenders between 2009-2012, only 84 in total have been successful - an astonishing 13% rate of success,” he said.
But last night Mr Wilson said he was disappointed by Mr Ramsey ‘s comments which he regarded as misleading.
He added: “Since 2009 over 646 companies in the Foyle Constituency area expressed an interest in tendering for government contracts. However only 134 of these companies submitted tenders with 84 of them being successful. This equates to a success rate of 63%, considerably higher than the figure Mr Ramsey is claiming to be the case.
“Mr Ramsey also stated: “We must ensure that our businesses are engaging successfully with public procurement and jobs are supported by work locally.” In this regard my Department has already introduced a range of measures to ensure opportunities for local businesses are maximised. These include: reducing the information required from those tendering for lower value contracts; shortening the time taken to award contracts; and, ensuring prompt payment of firms contracting with government.”
The Minister continued: “In addition, my officials in Central Procurement Directorate (CPD) along with the Centres of Procurement Expertise (COPEs) regularly meet with suppliers in a variety of settings, for example, ‘meet the buyer’ events.
“In 2011 and 2012, CPD contributed to a number of events attended by over 1,500 SME representatives. This included three events in Londonderry which were attended by 80 SME representatives in total. A further event is being organised by Derry City Council in March 2013 when CPD will provide further practical advice on how to access public sector contract opportunities.”
Concluding Sammy Wilson said: “In the current economic climate it would be helpful if Mr Ramsey encouraged local companies to compete for government contracts instead of leading them to believe that the public sector is beyond their reach.
“The public sector is open for business and we want to encourage local firms to participate in government procurement. Evidence demonstrates that the public sector is not beyond the reach of smaller firms.”