Leitrim “schools hand are tied with procurement” and this system is “decimating local businesses” members of Leitrim VEC heard this week.
Acting Principal of Drumshanbo Vocational School brought the issue of procurement to the table at Leitrim VEC on Monday, March 25. He said “School’s hands are tied with procurement.” He stated that a ream of paper can be sourced cheaper locally than from the compulsory national procurement company. He said it would be logic and fair play to be able to purchase school items at the same price or lower in the county to help Leitrim businesses that pay local rates and employ local people.
The committee heard that there are two local office suppliers in Leitrim and the loss of such business as schools will most likely will mean jobs lost and an uncertain future. Cllr Martin Kenny said that small suppliers have lobbied on this, he said centralisation does not work. He said it is not just education all public bodies, including health are involved in this system and it is “decimating” local businesses. He asked that if each school is audited, why is there a need for this system? He commented that large companies who won the tender “do not even have their warehouses in Ireland.” He said we all need to support local companies.
Chairperson of Leitrim VEC Damien Brennan said “If the local supplier can provide the item at the same or less then the centralised company, it makes no sense why you can’t purchase it.” He also added that if a photocopier breaks down the local supplier will be quickly on hand to fix it instead of waiting and being charged extra from the national company. He said it is ridiculous you can’t buy at item at a lesser price, because of this system.
Senator Paschal Mooney agreed and said Minister of State for Public Reform Brian Hayes needs to be asked to produce the figures of saving made. He said this needs to be revisited and tweaked to give local businesses a chance.
CEO Martin Fallon noted that local suppliers could not even tender for products because the threshold was set so high. Mr Fallon also added “It is not just cost, it is quality, these centralised products are far less quality than what can be sourced locally.” The members said cost, service and quality was a whole package offered by Leitrim companies.
Cllr Enda McGloin said Deputy Tony McLoughlin has raised this issue and he advised the VEC write to Minister of State for Small Business John Perry on the situation.
Acting Chief Executive Martin Fallon said he would write to Minister Ruairi Quinn, Brian Hayes and John Perry, he said he will send off local examples from the two Leitrim businesses and the difference in cost, quality and service of the goods procured.