Review to Renew the National Development Plan
Under the Programme for Government the coalition partners agreed to review and update the National Development Plan (NDP) to ensure that it delivers economic, social, environmental and cultural development all across the country.
The SFA acknowledges that since the launch of the NDP less than three years ago, a number of factors, including the twin crises of Brexit and Covid, have significantly changed the policy landscape in the intervening period. Therefore, in terms of the Review of the NDP, the overarching priority for the small business community is that development will continue to take place in a planned way, focused on the factors that can rebuild and boost Ireland’s competitiveness and backed up with the necessary capital investment.
SFA’s submission focused on the need to adopt a better approach all round to procurement to assist the small business community within Ireland and the single market, not just buyers, to deliver the development priorities set out in the NDP.
- To raise the number of small firms delivering the NDP, each category council should have a designated SME lead, when conducting market analysis and designing appropriate purchasing approach.
- To overcome barriers around engagement with small businesses and entrepreneurs, more needs to be done to involve them in the design of goods and services and holding ‘meet the buyer’ events before the start of a formal procurement exercise. Through this, opportunities should arise where contracting authorities can access innovative products and services that will help meet their circular public procurement goals.
- LEOs should provide training on how to bid for procurement opportunities in coordination with the formal procurement process of National Development Plan infrastructure projects.
- To succeed in green public procurement, there is a need to raise awareness and competence among small suppliers and their supply chains.
- The Government must continue their commitment to professionalise the procurement function within the public sector through training and upskilling, particularly in terms of advancing the SME agenda.
- To achieve innovation and meet circular procurement requirements government must counter the continued perception around emphasis still being placed on lowest price over value for money when awarding contracts to a tenderer.
- Develop a national e-Procurement strategy for the public sector, which is linked to the national eGovernment strategy.
- Every public body or state agency involved in delivering the NDP should have a visible “doing business with us” button on their home page, which clearly shows how goods, services and works are procured (e.g. directly, via Framework Agreements etc). This would allow business to tailor their sales strategies.
- Competitiveness must be maintained as rising business costs including increasing insurance costs in the construction sector is becoming a threat to small firms bidding for public procurement contracts.