States seeks boost for economy with island procurement

A REVISED States procurement policy with a focus on ‘localisation’ could add millions of pounds to the economy, business leaders have been told.

Deputy Neil Inder speaks at the latest Chamber lunch at the OGH Hotel. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 28916506)
Deputy Neil Inder speaks at the latest Chamber lunch at the OGH Hotel. (Picture by Peter Frankland, 28916506)

Economic Development president Neil Inder also said that training could be given to local firms in putting together submissions for tenders – and that results could be seen within a year or so.

Addressing the Chamber of Commerce’s regular monthly lunch, Deputy Inder yesterday said procurement would be key to the ‘Revive and Thrive’ strategy to help the island recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

‘Fifty-three percent of government procurement goes into the economy on an annual basis. Now if we can pick that up another 10 points in the next year that will add another £15m. into the economy,’ he said. ‘If you squint at it a bit, it looks a bit like a Revive and Thrive fund.’

Deputy Inder continued: ‘Part of that means giving our construction firms a fair chance of winning major projects on-island. That approach will run through the committee’s work and it’s called localisation, ensuring that when the taxpayer is funding a project, big or small, as much as possible of that funding goes to local employers and local workers. That is essential for recovery. We must do this. We are working closely with States procurement and local businesses to achieve this. Prioritising investment in our economy and our businesses is one of the most effective actions that this government can take.

‘I can inform the Chamber that that work has already started. I am in close communication with the procurement lead and we have had sight of a plan that we can implement within three months or so. Our next steps will be to identify those sectors of the economy which could potentially be targeted.’

Timescales would be developed to help ensure focus on those areas. But the ED president stressed tenders could not just be awarded because a firm had Guernsey attached to its name. ‘They do have to go through a process. Ultimately, this is public money.’

He also recognised the need for training for firms – and potential guidelines – when it came to submitting tender submissions, something set to be looked at by ED over the next few months. Improvements could be made in relation to small and medium-sized enterprises when it came to the revised procurement policy.

‘What we’ve got to do is add another 10 points to government procurement spending in the island and that’s another £15m. back into the island. I think we can achieve that, genuinely, within a year or so,’ he told his business audience.

Deputy Inder was asked about procurement policy by audience member Oliver Brock, of bhp surveyors & architects, as to whether the States was signed up to EU tender processes. Mr Brock also asked whether Brexit was an opportunity for a ‘quick exit’ from such requirements, if the States had them at all, or starting again with procurement policy.

‘I’ve got absolutely no idea,’ replied Deputy Inder. ‘I’m not all over procurement and sir, if you could write to me separately I’m quite happy to try and get that question answered for you.’

  • ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT is set to take a fresh look at extending the airport runway in light of the pandemic.

Committee president Neil Inder said a report had been handed to the previous committee just before the pandemic hit. Subsequent events, such as a dramatic reduction in flights, meant the runway extension should be revisited.

‘I genuinely think that we’re obliged in the first quarter of next year to re-look again to find out where we are in terms of the airline industry,’ he said, ‘with a view of trying to get the policy letter in the States by the end of next year.’

More widely, Deputy Inder said ED would appreciate input from the Bailiwick’s key industries. ‘The committee’s door is open,’ he said.

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