The Minister addressed the Welsh Government’s ‘Welsh Public Sector: Open for Business’ event in Cardiff which showcased good procurement practice, debated poor practice and discussed how to find the right balance to make wise decisions.
Over 250 representatives from business and the public and third sector attended the conference.
Jane Hutt said:
"How we use our annual £4.3bn public funding has a profound impact on Welsh jobs and business. We want to see this money spent in a way that supports our economy, creates jobs and provides high quality public services across Wales.
"Our priority for growth and jobs is underpinned by a commitment to ensure that public procurement processes are straightforward and contract opportunities are open to all.
"We have already simplified our pre-qualification approach and question set. This is really helped to open up contracts to smaller suppliers.
"There has already been a difference in the construction sector. In the last financial year, Wales-based businesses – those with headquarters in Wales – won 51 of the 75 contracts or frameworks awarded, with a potential value of £780m. The previous year, Welsh businesses only secured 18 awards, so it is clear the impact this is already having."
The Minister also highlighted the impact the Community Benefits policy is having. This policy makes it a condition of contract that businesses outline how they will deliver social outcomes such as training and employment for disadvantaged people and the use of local supply chains.
Jane Hutt added:
"This policy has already brought benefits for individuals and companies across Wales. From the first seven completed projects which were worth £186m in contract value, 87% was spent in Wales. £66m went directly to people living in Wales on salaries, £96m went to Wales-based businesses and some 170 disadvantaged people received 8,600 weeks worth of work experience. This is what I want to see from all major public sector contracts in Wales.
"But it is important to remember that there will never be a one-size-fits-all solution for procurement in Wales. It is all about having well thought out, intelligent strategies for Wales. In some contracts we would want to attract inward investment, while in others we want to see smaller micro-businesses collaborating and forming consortia.
"When you combine the right procurement approach with a strong and ambitious business sector, the result is a powerful force for good. Not only can businesses help the public sector to improve the quality and efficiency of our services – for the right businesses the public sector often provides the firm platform needed to expand into markets beyond Wales.
"I would urge everyone to embrace open, transparent and simple processes, be open to dialogue, open to constructive challenge and open to change. We can then show that Wales is truly ‘open for business’."