Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Financial Services, eGovernment and Procurement Frank O’Rourke TD has introduced a new Bill into the Oireachtas with the aim of reforming the manner in which State tenders are awarded.

The ‘Public Services and Procurement (Social Value) Bill 2017’ aims to increase competition in the public procurement tending process by enhancing Small and Medium Sized Businesses ability to compete for public tenders.

Deputy O’Rourke explained, “SME’s play a vital role in our economy. They act as the engine of economic growth and employ some 900,000 people right across Ireland. However in recent years many SME’s have found it more difficult to effectively compete for State tenders due to significant administrative and legal barriers. The Bill we have brought forward aims to tackle this problem.

“The Bill will introduce a specific social value clause in our procurement guidelines. This clause will require any State body, local authority or Department issuing a tender to take into account the impact of awarding a contract on the local and national economy. Other European countries such as Denmark, France, Austria and Belgium have already introduced such a social value clause. It’s time for Ireland to follow suit.

“The State currently spends approximately €8.5 Billion each year on procuring goods and services. Ireland ranks high in comparison to other European countries regarding the proportion of public goods and services procured outside of the State. The objective of our Bill is to achieve a level playing pitch.

“Irish companies deserve an opportunity to access State tenders, but all too often the large multinational companies undercut their bid. Accordingly most of the money ends up outside the State. Introducing a social value clause will address this problem by forcing the State to take into account the knock on social benefits of awarding a tender to an Irish SME,” concluded Deputy O’Rourke.