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19 September 2013 | Marino Donati
Changes to public procurement rules in Scotland that will make it easier for small businesses to bid for public contracts have moved closer, as a reform bill goes to Parliament.
The Procurement Reform Bill sets out how European legislation will be interpreted and put into practice in Scotland.
First minister Alex Salmond said the bill would make it easier for newer businesses, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and the third sector to access public contract opportunities.
It is also expected to generate new training and employment opportunities, he said. The Bill will require public bodies to consider how procurement activity can improve the economic, social and environmental wellbeing of local communities.
“The Procurement Reform Bill has the potential to make a difference to many lives,” Salmond said. “It will provide new powers to tackle companies that do not comply with their legal obligations, including blacklisting and employment law.”
Salmond also said with the agreement of Parliament, Scotland could go further than the plans unveiled by the Welsh Government this week, to bar companies that blacklist workers from bidding for multi-million pound public sector contracts.
He said: “Our Bill here in Scotland will give Parliament the opportunity to go further than Wales, by taking the power to regulate how companies are selected to bid and how their suitability should be assessed,” he said. “These regulations will address blacklisting, working within the framework of EU law.”
The government issued a report last month, claiming that a lack of data on procurement outcomes in public sector contracts across the EU was hampering reform.
The Bill will now proceed through the Scottish legislative process.