Belfast Telegraph

Councils warned on public contracts

Councils have been warned to use a central system for awarding public contracts or face being named and shamed.

Junior finance minister Brian Hayes has said state bodies should not favour local rate-paying businesses for contracts over the Government's procurement service.

"I can understand why a local authority may wish to do that, we're not in that space any more," he said.

"We can't afford subsidised employment just because a local business is giving rates to a local authority as a means of getting a contract. That can't happen any more."

Mr Hayes said a public service-wide stationery contract awarded earlier this year had only been taken up by 170 of the 400 state bodies.

He has ordered officials to examine how many Government departments, local authorities and other public bodies are not using contracts awarded through the National Procurement Service.

"(I will) ultimately name and shame them as to why they're not using it," the minister warned.

The minister was unveiling a more streamlined system to make it clearer for businesses looking to bid for contracts.

Mr Hayes said: "Today's announcement is a significant initiative that helps business and buyers to cut down on costs. Standardised legal documents make it easier to untangle the red tape and get clarity for all concerned."

Mr Hayes said the state paid 16 billion euro for goods and services in 2009, and up to 15 billion euro last year. He warned that figure must drop further.

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