A Derry MLA says local businesses cannot afford to miss out on a raft of public procurement projects worth an estimated £20 billion over the next ten years.
Sinn Féin’s Maeve McLaughlin says her party has worked hard to ensure that proper terms and conditions, as well as opportunities for local and smaller contractors, are enshrined within all public procurement projects.
She says: “Public procurement offers massive opportunities to local industry. But, in order for that to be maximised, the benefits must be felt at every level of the chain.
“Firms are invited to tender on the basis of lowest price or a combination of quality and price.
“Sinn Féin in Derry recognised that many small and medium sized firms felt that this criterion put them at a disadvantage compared to larger contractors.
“As a result, we called for the Assembly Committee for Finance and Personnel to carry out an inquiry into the procurement process.”
She added: “Given that approximately only 7% of all public contracts awarded (including construction works) are awarded to firms in the north west, we recognise that many local firms still experience great difficulty in winning public contracts.
“In our continuous campaign to change this, we will shortly be hosting two procurement workshops specifically for local firms where they will get the chance to, firstly, meet the Central Procurement Directorate (CPD) to determine if, indeed, the process has been simplified, and, secondly, to meet Derry City Council, Ilex, the Culture Company and the Department for Social Development to discuss their procurement processes,” the Foyle Sinn Fein MLA said.