Procurement policies

2008-03-21 00:00

In discussions within the Pietermaritzburg Chamber of Business circles about procurement policies, a number of interesting questions have been raised, which, on the face of it, might be overlooked. One issue which often raises hackles is the failure to appoint local companies to do local work. Some time ago there was an initiative in Pietermaritzburg to promote local products and services. We set out to develop a mindset which favoured a local business ahead of one, say, in Durban or elsewhere. The chamber had to withdraw its support for this when the organisers began to “name and shame” large Pietermaritzburg companies for not procuring exclusively in the city. By then it had emerged anyway that there was discomfiture in encouraging businesses to expand into markets outside the city while supporting the closure of our own market to outsiders.

Unfortunately, while local companies are often aggrieved by these events, the biggest losers are those engaged in small-business operations. When questioned why his department did not break contracts into smaller pieces that could be awarded to small companies, the head told me that it was easier to procure from large companies with proven capacity. This attitude may have to change over the years, such is the increased pressure to comply with both small business stimulation and black economic empowerment.

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