Page last updated at 19:22 GMT, Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Debate on the procurement policy

Adopting the Welsh procurement policy is "not optional" according to the finance minister on 15 January 2013.

Jane Hutt said that "real progress" had been achieved in securing public contracts for Welsh companies, but that the government was "committed to delivering more".

The McClelland report into public procurement was released in August 2012 to offer advice to the government on how to increase savings and efficiency.

According to the report, the Welsh public sector currently spends £4.3bn a year through procurement, with 51% going to Welsh companies.

Ms Hutt announced that a programme of fitness checks will be implemented in spring 2013.

These will be designed to enable organisations to re-assess their working procedures and address any deficiencies.

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood said the EU's public procurement rules are too restrictive.

The party believes the rules should be relaxed to help more local companies secure government contracts.

"If we can improve our procurement practices to increase from 51% to 75% of Welsh public spend to go to Welsh companies then that could create almost 50,000 jobs in Wales," said Ms Wood.

"The McClelland Report released last summer suggested that, if best practice wasn't being followed, then we should be legislating to make it happen.

"This legislation should be brought forward to ensure that this becomes common practice, not best practice."

The Liberal Democrats called for the release of up-to-date information on the number of Welsh companies receiving government procurement contracts.

Eluned Parrott emphasised the need for certainty that the companies being given contracts were in actual fact Welsh and not simply using an invoicing address in Wales.

"A strong policy is vital to our economic future," she said.

The Conservatives called on the government to ensure they effectively communicate any changes in procurement policies to businesses.

"Ultimately, what all of us want is a level playing field for SMEs (small to medium sized businesses)," said finance spokesperson Paul Davies.

The motion as amended was agreed.

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