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The construction industry continues to represent one of the most important sectors of the local economy. Not only does it contribute to a significant portion of the country’s GDP but it is also one of the sectors that carry a significant portion of the labour force with encouraging growth rates in all areas. The percentage contribution to GDP from the Construction sector shows a contribution varied between 3.49% and 4.18%.
The level of employment within the construction industry is a strong indicator of the activity and performance of the industry. It is likely that an industry that supports a steady growth is an indication of an industry that is thriving. Certain traits and characteristics of the construction industry as a whole are fully reflected in the sustainable construction subsector.
Generally, within Maltese SMEs it is the owner of the business or one of the secretaries employed, depending on the size of the business, that take care in monitoring communication media to identify relevant tenders for their business. Out of the 100 construction companies interviewed, it was determined that 44 had an interest in public procurement. Out of these 44 companies, 41 companies identified public procurement opportunities internally, 1 company outsourced the task and 2 companies commented that the task was congruently carried out internally and outsourced.
The 41 companies who carried out the identification of public procurement opportunities were questioned on whose responsibility within their company is this activity. 24 respondents mentioned that it is the responsibility of the owner followed by 12 respondents who mentioned that this role is fulfilled at a secretarial or clerical level whilst other positions received less than 4 mentions.
Resources & finances
SMEs may encounter financial difficulties when they are in the process of submitting a tender. Besides, one must also remember that monitoring whether a tender is relevant for a particular business or not also involves a financial burden.
Costs for tendering: monitoring of tenders, purchasing of actual tendering documents, costs to compile the tender, costs involved in acquiring financial obligations (example: bid bond), hiring of professional staff that might not be available in house. Other costs may include other legal documents that might be requested under the tender.
Revenue for tenders: Bank Loans, overdrafts, retained profits, pre-financing from the project, EU funding.
The 44 companies who had an interest in public procurement were asked whether they experience any difficulties when they are in the process of bidding for a public procurement call. 27 companies commented that they do encounter problems during this process whilst 17 companies replied in the negative. The main problem encountered during bidding relates to the complexity of the public procurement document (16 mentions) followed by the perception that tenders specifications are not accessible to all (7 mentions). Other reasons received 3 mentions or less.
The questionnaire that was specifically designed for the purposes of this assignment also sought to determine why a number of companies may not have an interest in public procurement. It was determined that out of the 100 companies interviewed in the construction sector 56 had no interest in public procurement. The main reason why these companies had no interest in public procurement was due to lack of internal capacity (22 mentions), followed by the fact that the company is too small (11 mentions) and that they have no interest I public procurement because they have enough work (10 mentions). Other reasons received 5 mentions or else.
Trends and developments within the sector
Malta’s small, highly-populated island context, brings to the fore the urgency and importance of the construction professions working together for environmental sustainability. For the construction professions, the challenge of integrating sustainable development into our policies and programmes, of reversing the loss of environmental resources and of improving the quality of life is very real in the Maltese Islands. In the short term, the construction professions struggle to provide settlements that are practical and financially accessible, and yet which are also attractive and promote healthy lifestyles. At the same time these settlements need to make judicious use of land and natural resources and reduce both indoor and outdoor pollution, both in their construction phase and during their lifetimes.
Looking to the longer term, the construction sector is growing increasingly aware of the responsibilities to plan, design and construct buildings that can withstand global climatic change. Each of the construction professions in Malta [surveying, engineering, architecture and planning] have a role to play in achieving environmental sustainability. By working better these professions would have a much stronger chance of developing a long-term sustainable construction sector.
Like in other countries presumably, planning systems in Malta are increasingly being charged with implementing sustainable development. For example, the Development Planning Act Nr 9 lists the first function of the Malta Planning Authority as ‘the promotion of proper planning and sustainable development of land and at sea’. Over the recent years this Authority evolved into the Malta Environment and Planning Authority (MEPA) in 2001, reflecting the urgent need to have an autonomous body overseeing Maltese land management in its totality.
MEPA is the national agency responsible for land use planning and environmental regulation in Malta. Established under the mandate of the Environment Protection Act (2001) and the Development Planning Act (1992) of the Laws of Malta, MEPA is also responsible for the implementation of around 200 Directives, Decisions and Regulations under the EU Environmental Acquis. In addition, MEPA acts as the national focal point under a number of international environmental conventions and multilateral agreements, including the Aarhus Convention on access to information, public participation in decision-making and access to justice in environmental matters. The Authority employs over 420 personnel from a wide range of backgrounds to help solve and shape the country's environmental and land-use issues.
Access to information
SMEs tend to obtain information on tenders that are issued and which might be relevant for them from different sources. These sources include the government gazette, the online version of the government gazette, the department of information (DOI), newspapers, through consultants, government entities and newsletters, own networks. More specific information will be supplied in the coming days once the survey data is recorded and analysed.
The companies who had an interest in public procurement (44 companies) were also asked in which media they seek public procurement opportunities. The main source of media used to identify public procurement opportunities was the Government Gazette (23 mentions), followed by websites (20 mentions), from the department of information (DOI) (9 mentions), newspapers (6 mentions) and personal contacts (5 mentions). Other reasons received 2 mentions or less.
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