Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Niall Collins has said that some of the nearly 1 million jobs in Irish SMEs will be put in jeopardy unless the Government makes it easier for them to compete with multinationals for State contracts.
“The Government has failed to take the opportunity, as part of the review of its guidelines on public procurement, to rebalance the scales in favour of Irish SMEs.
“For years, it has been clear for all to see that Irish SMEs were at a disadvantage compared to large multinationals when it came to tendering for State contracts.
“By not recognising the challenges that Irish SMEs face in competing with MNCs, and winning State contracts, and making changes to its guidelines, the Government has thrown these small and medium sized businesses under the bus.
“If the Government was truly serious about increasing opportunities for Irish SMEs to win State contracts, it would have surely provided more guidance and support to them in the guidelines.
“Just two of the 121 pages of the guidelines are specific to SMEs so the Government’s rhetoric doesn’t match reality.
“The SME sector is vital to Ireland’s economy. Nearly one million of our people work in just over 237,000 individual businesses and enterprises.
“With Brexit looming, we need to support our SMEs win contracts here at home from the State. With fluctuations in sterling and potential import and export tariffs, Irish SMEs can no longer rely on or expect to earn the same income from the UK post Brexit
“Don’t get me wrong, multinationals are important and vital cogs in our economy. However, it’s not a zero sum game. Supporting SMEs does not threaten MNCs.
“The way to generate new employment in our country, and especially outside of our cities and large towns, is through growing the SME sector.
“Enabling these SMEs to win State contracts opens up new opportunities for expansion and growth in employees.
“The Fianna Fáil party recently brought forward a bill, the Public Services and Procurement (Social Value) Bill 2017. Our bill would require any State body, local authority or Department issuing a tender to take into account the impact of awarding a contract in the local and national economy.
“The determining criteria on awarding State contracts should not solely be the cost. The social value impact and the potential impact on creating new jobs must be taken into account by the State and its agencies.
“Unfortunately, the Government failed to take on board any of our ideas when drawing up the new guidelines, but Fianna Fáil will continue to press for SMEs to be given the tools needed to grow and expand,” concluded Collins.