Procurement Board

Oral Answers to Questions — Infrastructure – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:30 pm on 1st December 2020.

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Photo of Steve Aiken Steve Aiken UUP 2:30 pm, 1st December 2020

T1. Dr Aiken asked the Minister for Infrastructure, given that she will be aware that, this morning, the Finance Minister announced the reestablishment of the Procurement Board, to outline how that will effect her Department and how responsibility and accountability will be run within the new board. (AQT 761/17-22)

Photo of Nichola Mallon Nichola Mallon Social Democratic and Labour Party

I thank the Member for his question. I welcome the Finance Minster's proposals to reconstitute the Procurement Board. The new Procurement Board announced today by Minister Murphy will, I believe, provide impetus to the development of public procurement policy to ensure that it delivers maximum social, economic and environmental impacts.

The Executive spend significant sums of public money annually on procurement, so it is only right that procurement policy is designed and developed by those who manage and deliver government contracts and that policies have Executive approval. I look forward to engaging with the Finance Minister to agree the roles and responsibilities of the new Procurement Board and on how any work will be referred to the Executive. It is vital, as the Member points out, that Ministers have oversight, given our accountability.

Photo of Steve Aiken Steve Aiken UUP

I thank the Minister for her answer. As she will be aware, we have not yet seen the terms of reference for the Procurement Board, and a fiscal council has not yet been established. Bearing in mind those two issues, does the Minister have any concerns, given that her Department will be one of those most closely monitored by the new Procurement Board?

Photo of Nichola Mallon Nichola Mallon Social Democratic and Labour Party

I thank the Member for his question. He will be aware that my party and I are supportive of a fiscal council, as we believe that it is an important tool for planning and for the future management of our finances. We need to be strategic in our investments. I believe that that is important work and that we all should be involved. I look forward to having an input on the terms of reference. I believe that our strategic, long-term approach to, and delivery of, services and projects right across all Departments needs to be much better. It was with that in mind that I set up the ministerial advisory panel on an infrastructure commission, which would have a key role to play in ensuring that we are strategic in our approach and in the delivery of projects to the maximum effect.