There are approximately 300,000 small and medium sized enterprises in Ireland. Fact.
In recent months, Enterprise Minister Batt O’Keeffe has expounded about the importance of SMEs in assisting Irish economic recovery. And that they will undoubtedly do, if they receive the necessary State support.
With that in mind, and given the repeated noises that we’ve heard to that effect in recent months, that the Government is about to hammer a nail into the SME coffin defies all logic.
Allow me to explain, because there is a Government-sanctioned process in train that could drive a wrecking ball through the very sector that O’Keeffe & Co are purporting to champion.
The National Procurement Service, which falls under the remit of the Office of Public Works (OPW), is currently seeking tenders for the supply of stationery and office supplies for all Government Departments.
This tender also extends to other Government offices, State agencies along with public bodies, regional and local authorities.
As part of a cost savings initiative – that’s how the Government will spin it – the NPS is set to award the entire stationery contract to one single supplier, thus excluding smaller, local firms from the process altogether.
The two-year contract at stake is worth €80 million, and there’s a highly probable risk that this contract will be won by a non-Irish company.
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