Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Questions (41)

Sandra McLellan

Question:

37 Deputy Sandra McLellan asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation the changes he has advocated to ensure that small and indigenous businesses can benefit from Government procurement. [4124/12]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation)

The Programme for Government includes a commitment to reform public procurement so that it supports innovative firms and allows greater access to public procurement by SMEs. The Jobs Initiative of last May also reinforced the Government's commitment to promote greater access to procurement opportunities for SMEs, including through identifying and overcoming barriers to their participation in the procurement process.

As the Deputy may be aware from previous replies given in the House, I established a Steering Group on SME Access to Public Procurement last July to identify clear and decisive measures which can be taken to improve SME access to public procurement. The Steering Group was informed by work carried out by the High Level Group on Business Regulation on barriers to SME access to procurement, and by the Small Business Advisory Group, both of which are chaired by the Minister for Small Business, Deputy John Perry, TD.

The 2012 Action Plan for Jobs which I am currently finalising for Government approval will include a series of actions designed to improve access to procurement for SMEs. Practical measures will include the strengthening of Enterprise Ireland's engagement between SMEs and procuring authorities, the identification of key projects where close collaboration and sub-contracting between "Tier 1" principal contractors and pre-qualified "Tier 2" SMEs could be developed, and a new initiative to encourage contracting authorities to consider more innovative solutions to their procurement needs.

Last week the Minister of State, Deputy Perry, met with the Minister of State for Public Service Reform, Deputy Brian Hayes TD, who has responsibility for public procurement policy, to discuss the dual aims of ensuring a level playing field to allow SMEs to compete for public contracts, while also ensuring best value for money for the Exchequer in the procurement process. Both Ministers pledged their continued support to the attainment of these objectives and to continuing to encourage SME participation in the public procurement process.