A Fianna Fáil Bill aimed at supporting SMEs by improving their chances of securing public contracts has passed through second stage in the Seanad.
Dublin Senator Darragh O’Brien secured support from all sides of the house for his constructive proposals to level the playing field for small Irish companies competing for Government contracts.
At the moment, Irish SMEs are completely undermined when competing for public contracts when compared to their European counterparts. This is because unlike many other EU countries, the only consideration in awarding contracts is price with no consideration of the social impact and longer term economic impact.
Senator O’Brien explained, “Every single year the State tenders for over €8.5 billion worth of goods and services. Most European countries have introduced a social clause to allow the State to choose offers which may not be the lowest initial cost, but will have significant social and economic benefit to the region in the long-run in terms of job creation and business investment. Ireland’s failure to do this has undermined our SMEs and resulted in the loss of thousands of jobs.
“Under our Bill, public bodies will be required to consider the economic, social and environmental well-being of bids for all public contracts. If we allow the status quo where the price being offered is the only consideration, international companies will continue to beat smaller Irish businesses, to the detriment of our economy in the long-run.
“I am delighted that our proposals have received the widespread support of the business community and now the support of all sides in the Seanad. I will continue to work with Chambers Ireland, the Small Firms Association and ISME to ensure that this legislation becomes a reality. We have made great progress by getting it through second stage in the Seanad. Now it’s time to put it into a law. This is a very simple step that the Government can take to support our small Irish companies and create jobs in our communities.”