Electronic Tendering System

Part of FINANCE AND personnel – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:30 pm on 23rd March 2009.

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Photo of Nigel Dodds Nigel Dodds Shadow Spokesperson (Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform), Without portfolio, Shadow Spokesperson (Justice), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Without Portfolio) 3:30 pm, 23rd March 2009

I am grateful for the Member’s recognition of the capital spend that is happening. It is 30% greater this year than the final out-turn position for 2007-08, which is significant. When one considers that 90% of that is going to local companies — and the vast majority of Northern Ireland’s companies are small and medium-sized enterprises per se — that gives an indication of the commitment that I have to our small and medium-sized enterprises.

The Member raised a point that has been raised by a lot by firms, businesses and Members. I am determined that centres of procurement expertise recognise the importance of SMEs — and I believe that they do. They encourage SMEs to join together as consortia to bid for contracts or look for opportunities within supply chains. The Member will be aware that Government clients are required to advertise publicly all construction procurement opportunities estimated to exceed £30,000 for construction work and £5,000 for construction-related services.

I referred to the eSourcingNI portal, which will be an enormous help to Northern Ireland companies. The recently established construction industry forum and procurement task group, which was set up and meets regularly, is considering how further to maximise the opportunities for SMEs in Northern Ireland to bid for, or benefit from, public-sector construction contracts.