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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

MEP's campaign to boost local firms

Plaid Cymru the Party of Wales MEP Jill Evans, whose office is in Wrexham, is working on changes to European Union public procurement rules to help local businesses get more government contracts. The party estimates that 48,000 jobs could be created by adopting an effective 'buy-local' policy.

The European Parliament is currently reviewing the laws adopted in 2004 which have so often been used as an excuse by government at all levels in Wales to avoid using Welsh companies. The Party of Wales President wants to make it easier to buy from local suppliers.

In Wales around £4.3 billion is spent by the public sector every year, highlighting the massive advantages of ploughing this money back into the Welsh economy. Jill Evans launched the party's "buy local" campaign at the Royal Welsh Show.

At local government level, the North Wales Procurement Partnership, which consists of Anglesey, Conwy, Denbighshire, Flintshire, Gwynedd and Wrexham, has reported that public procurement is worth £550 million in the north alone.

When Plaid Cymru was in government it was made easier for local firms to win government contracts. By 2010/11, some 52% of public sector business was being won locally, an increase from 35% a few years earlier.

Jill Evans, who is a spokesperson for her parliamentary group on this issue, has been working for a simplification of the rules, allowing the public sector to put value for money before cost when awarding contracts.

She said: "The public sector currently spends over £4 billion in Wales every year but sources barely half of its goods and services from local firms. We want to see that figure increase to at least 75% which could help create tens of thousands of local jobs.

"To do that we have to make sure that the rules are simplified and that local authorities are able to work together to provide services. We have to protect our education, health and social services and that means that contracts are not given to those who simply offer the lowest price.

"There has been pioneering work done in Wales, by our universities and the voluntary sector in particular, to show how we could really develop our economy and create jobs in this way. I will be ensuring that the new laws will help us do that."

The draft law will be voted in committee in the European Parliament in December and will go to the full session of Parliament in the new year. Intense negotiations are going on to reach a compromise on the 2,597 amendments that were put in.

Ms Evans will be speaking on Public Procurement at Bangor University on 22nd March 2013. The talk will be part of the Institute for Competition & Procurement Studies' Public Procurement week which will take place from 18th March until 22nd March.

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