Sinn Féin MLA Caoimhe Archibald has urged Executive departments procuring PPE to support local manufacturers.
The party’s economy spokesperson said:
“We are all aware from early in the pandemic there was difficulty securing PPE from overseas, it was therefore important to establish local supply chains for these products.
“A number of local companies stepped up to that challenge and have diversified their operations and are building capacity in the field of PPE manufacturing.
“The Finance Minister has previously outlined that Department of Finance officials are working with those in the Department of Health and with Invest NI to assist local manufacturers who wish to sell their products to government.
“This is welcome from the Departments of Finance and Health, however other departments are also tendering for PPE contracts.
“If departments evaluate bids on price alone, then it will likely result in local companies not being awarded the contracts, as bids from companies in other countries where traditionally these products have been sourced will have larger economies of scale and lower prices.
“However, it needs to be taken into account that there will be a relatively higher degree of security of supply by sourcing these products locally.
“It would also assist the local economic recovery through job creation for companies to be able to secure these contracts and support those who have already diversified their operations in response to the great need in our health system and more widely in society as a result of the pandemic.
“I would therefore urge departments to look at how other criteria can be included in tenders to support local manufacturers secure these contracts.”