Fabian Demicoli

Accessible and Competent Public Procurement – Vincent Farrugia, Director General GRTU

 GRTU, Malta Chamber of SMEs, is
Malta's registered national employers' organisation with the largest number and
array of micro and small business employers of members. GRTU strongly objects
to the new imposition on Public Procurement as evidence in all public tenders
issued by the Contract Committee over the last several weeks.

GRTU's objections are based on
two cardinal issues:

 

1.    
Public Procurement of goods and services should
aim at the procurement of most optimal quality of goods and services at the
best available, competitive prices. This is the role of the National Public
Procurement Agency (The Contract Committee). It is not the role of the Public
Procurement to be Czar for Social Justice Enforcement, whether this refers to
employment conditions, environmental issues, health and safety and any other
enforcement whatsoever.

 

There
are other appropriately established public institutions directly responsible
for the enforcement of laws enforcing labour, health, safety, environment,
standard, and any other condition. The National Public Procurement Agency
should not be subjected to the inspectorate of other public sector institution
because of any clauses imposed on Public Procurement documents.

 

The
Director of Employment Relations, for example, has enough legislation and resources
to ensure that all employers, and not just government contractors, abide by
Malta's high quality labour protection laws. There is nothing that precludes
the Director for Labour to act against any employer who has been found to be in
abuse of labour laws. But the Director for Labour should not expect the
National Public Procurement Agency to do his work for him. The director for
labour and his labour inspectorate should never be given power over the
execution of contracts worth millions if not tens or hundreds of millions
euros. When the National Public Procurement Agency "subcontracts" its own enforcement
powers to other institutions it allows public procurement to become wide open
for abuse, corruption and incompetence.

 

2.    
Public Procurement should be accessible to all
who can compete. This is how the Private Sector Procurement is done and Public
Procurement should follow the efficiency of the Private Sector. There are firms
who are competent administratively and financially to bid for public contracts.
These are specialist contractors who are not necessarily big. There are other
firms, however, who prefer to specialize in supply of services and to operate
as sub-contractors to the former. It is fallacious for anyone to state that
contractors are more efficient and that they can provide a more cost effective
higher quality service if all specialists and workers are directly employed by
the Tendering Contractors. On the contrary there is ample evidence to prove
that most suppliers of specialize services, most times offer higher quality at
lesser cost and that they can attract and incentivize better quality specialist
and service providers than contractors with directly employed individual. It is
inconceivable that a national public procurement agency is denied the services
of miscellaneous specialists who prefer to work as sub-contractors.

Malta
cannot and should not have Public Procurement that denies sub-contractors. It
is bad for Public Procurement. It is inefficient and opens wide the opportunity
for abuse. It loads the National Public Procurement Agency with unnecessary bureaucracy.
But most of all it is bad for small businesses. It represents the greatest blow
suffered by small business ever.

 

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