Ulster Unionist MLA for East Antrim, Roy Beggs, used the opportunity following a statement by the Finance Minister to challenge Sammy Wilson on some specific problems within public procurement following a recent critical report.
The Finance and Personnel Committee member:
‘Today Sammy Wilson made a statement to the Assembly on public procurement. During the statement he was keen to point out achievements to date as well as recent initiatives but he was not as open to answering questions on the recent Northern Ireland Audit Office (NIAO) Report which raised serious concerns about efficiencies which are not currently being realised through aggregated demand. The Minister claimed that certain protocols meant that he would not comment or take questions on the report.’
‘However, following advice from Public Accounts Committee staff it was apparent that the Minister was incorrect and I can only conclude that he was seeking to avoid answering questions on what was a very critical report on his handling of public procurement. It is important that public procurement, which amounted to £2.7 billion in 2010/11, is subject to adequate scrutiny and a sufficient balance is achieved between progress in collaboration policies whilst maintaining the development of small and medium sized enterprises. The Minister evidently has much work to do in this area and I would reiterate the Ulster Unionist view that public procurement should be tailored specifically towards getting value for money for our small and medium sized enterprises.’