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Chamber supports Government’s progressive procurement policy

Several weeks ago the Gisborne Tairawhiti Chamber of Commerce was asked to advocate against the Government’s Progressive Procurement Policy. We confess, it was something that we knew little about, so we chose to get ourselves educated. Thanks to the local Te Puni Kokiri office for taking the time to meet with us.

For those of you who aren’t aware; the purpose of this policy is to encourage businesses that have at least 50 percent Maori ownership to register with a view to ensuring that 5 percent of government contracts are awarded to Maori-registered businesses.

Let’s put some context around those figures:

• There are 88,733 businesses registered with GETS (the procurement system that advises government contracts available for tender)

• 267 are Maori owned; that is 0.003 percent of all businesses on GETS

• There are 121 government entities involved — their total target is to get to 5 percent of contracts being awarded to Maori-registered businesses

• A wide range of services and products are procured through GETS, ranging from construction and consulting to car rentals, information technology, etc.

Before anyone jumps up and down and says, “that’s racist” and “that’s not fair”, let’s calm down and look at the bigger picture of what is good for our region.

Imagine, you’re invited to a party. Great. You have the address of where the party is held.

You don’t know how you got the address, it’s just something that you’ve always had. But imagine, you’re not part of that group and you’ve never been invited to the party. Or, you might be aware that there are parties, but you don’t know the address so it’s also hard to attend.

Now, imagine you’re the host of the party and you decide that recent parties you’ve held have had the same old guests. You decided you want some different guests, so you give them the address too.

The party becomes more diverse, and the new partygoers now have the address and so they are comfortable to attend more parties in the future. These new partygoers haven’t eaten all the food (indeed, other partygoers have realised that there is still plenty of food), they’ve just had the opportunity to eat up to 5 percent of the party food. It’s not a lot but if you’ve not had any party food before, it’s a good start.

That’s the policy. It’s acknowledging that Maori businesses have missed out on government procurement tender opportunities in the past and it’s acknowledging that the playing field is not always level. It is also not a promise of securing business. Government procurement policy will still apply. And it is not a compromise on quality, cost or service. Agencies will still be awarded on merit. It’s about creating opportunity with a view to encouraging economic growth.

If the policy can meet its objectives of increased choice for government procurement, provide access for business and create economic opportunity, for Tairawhiti, a region where 20 percent of businesses are Maori-owned, how can this policy be seen as a negative?

It is for this reason that the Gisborne Tairawhiti Chamber of Commerce will be supporting this policy.

• Information on the policy can be found here: Progressive Procurement (tpk.govt.nz)

■ Belinda Mackay is president of the Gisborne Tairawhiti Chamber of Commerce.

Interested in joining the chamber? Connect, share and grow — raise your business profile locally and nationally. Contact Lena Bevan on 021 448 146 or lena@gisborne.org.nz for more information.

Belinda Mackay

  1. Shayne Fairbrother, Wellington says:

    Continuing with the theme of your analogy…
    It’s not just about being invited to the party – it’s about knowing what to do when you get to the party. Currently, if partygoers want to win at the games played at the party they have to know the associated rules, protocols and etiquette of the party. It’s not just a matter of turning up!
    This is where a lot of attendees miss out on winning in the games.
    Seriously though, the Chamber (and chambers around the country) need to invest in training both Maori and all small businesses on how to write a response to meet the need or requirements of the games, not to just advertise their presence or acknowledge the invitation.
    Besides, responding to the invite can be very costly especially if the party kicks you out!!