US 'bail out' bill could harm small business procurement

5 October 2008
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06 October 2008 | Paul Snell

The US government's $700 billion "bail out" of the financial sector is a concern for small businesses, according to a representative group.

The American Small Business League (ASBL) said the language of the act authorising the rescue package was "extremely vague", "overly broad" and would allow the government to waive any procurement rules it wanted.

The US House of Representatives passed the act by 263 to 171 votes last Friday, having rejected an earlier proposal.

Part of the bill contains a section that would allow the federal government to ignore rules on awarding contracts to small, female, minority or veteran-owned firms. There is also no stipulation on how long the "waiver of provisions" would last.

"Not only does the bill not contain any provisions that specifically help small business, it has provisions that could actually harm middle-class firms. It is clearly not necessary to suspend federal acquisition law to bail out Wall Street and the financial industry," said Lloyd Chapman, ASBL president.

"I am very concerned that the Bush Administration included that language to give them the authority to further dismantle federal programmes designed to assist small business."


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