‘Local supplier’ objective poses some difficulties

The definition of a local supplier could become "convoluted" when deciding who gets the job for Southland District Council’s projects.

But there is no doubt Southlanders will be considered alongside applicants from outside of the district.

Reassurance was provided at the council’s meeting yesterday following discussions about its draft procurement policy objectives.

The policy was set to be applied when any goods, services or assets were being sought from a supplier.

When the document went out for public consultation, one submitter proposed a new objective be included — to support local suppliers where qualifying criteria were met.

Policy analyst Robyn Rout said the council had two options in relation to supporting local suppliers — to consider them when assessing public value or to amend the draft policy to specifically include "supporting local suppliers", as both a policy objective and a policy statement.

Cr Karyn Owen did not agree with the first option and believed the council should clearly state supporting local suppliers was a priority, similarly to central Government’s policy.

"[I don’t understand] why we can’t have have an objective to increase Southland businesses’ access to SDC procurement."

General manager Matt Russell said the meaning of "local supplier" could become convoluted, as it was such a vague term.

However, from a policy perspective, staff had maintained a balanced approach to the tender selection process.

Cr George Harpur stressed rural areas would be "let down" if business came from outside the district instead of using the region’s own resources.

While some councillors raised concerns over option two becoming too restrictive, staff were confident it was not going to "tie us up in knots".

Mayor Gary Tong said tenders would need to be assessed on a case-by-case basis, as each situation would be different.

Councillors approved the report after an amendment was made to include the objective to increase businesses access to SDC procurement.

abbey.palmer@odt.co.nz


 

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