SELECT, the trade body for Scotland’s electrical sector, has urged the Scottish Government not to delay the implementation of the Sustainable Procurement Bill which is in the late stages of examination in the Scottish Parliament. The organisation believes that the Bill addresses most of the important outstanding issues regarding public sector procurement and that it is imperative that it becomes an Act of Parliament, with minimal amendment, as soon as possible. It also believes that the importance of the Bill, in a country dominated by the public sector, cannot be understated, arguing that it will determine for the foreseeable future how fully indigenous, private sector Scottish firms will be able to participate in vital public expenditure.
Head of External Affairs, David Wright, accepts that the consultation process has been “very genuine and many of the provisions for which we lobbied have been taken into consideration. It is now a matter of immediate concern to firms up and down the country across all sectors to see the Bill entering the statute books as an Act so that the benefits of public expenditure can be more efficiently shared by Scottish companies.”
Mr Wright pointed out that the Bill, for the first time, lists all public sector organisations covered by it, removing the argument by some authorities that its provisions do not apply to them. It also means that they are covered by the same procurement procedures, meaning that companies do not have to deal differently with, for instance, 32 different local authorities. This Single Portal means that there will only be one place where jobs go out to tender, making the identification of relevant work easier for companies.
Crucially, there will only be one pre-qualification requirement for companies, removing the need for repetitive pre-qualification submissions to different authorities, a hugely expensive and time-consuming process involving immensely complex paperwork. Nor will public sector bodies be allowed to continue to charge for providing the forms which companies need to fill in.
Mr Wright went on to say that the provisions would “expedite the process, making it far easier and much less costly for Scotland’s companies, especially small to medium enterprises, to play on a level playing field. But what is really encouraging from a local point of view is that there is a provision in the Bill for organisations to purchase locally. Where Community Benefit can be demonstrated, public sector bodies can justify favouring a local enterprise. This could be as simple as a reduction in carbon footprint through buying closer to home”