Revenue accused of 'treason' in tender row
THE Revenue Commissioners have been accused of "economic treason" for spending €225,000 on having tax forms printed in Spain.
The printing contract was previously held by an Irish company, which is now expected to have to lay off four of its 50 staff as a result.
Future Print managing director Brian Reilly, whose company is going into examinership, said it was "economic treason" for the Revenue to carry on in this way.
"That is what it amounts to, because they're ignoring their own rulings -- it's perfectly legitimate to regionalise a contract or to break it up into one year, two years or three years. You can do that to suit keeping the work here," he said.
Under EU rules, contracts worth more than €125,000 have to be put to tender across the EU, but Mr Reilly said the State was failing to split contracts into smaller lots below this threshold, which would give Irish companies a chance of competing for them. He also said the Revenue was missing out on income tax on Irish print workers' salaries and from VAT on print supplies.
"I get the impression that if these guys could buy turf in Iceland, that's where they'd go, rather than here," he said.
There were around 17,000 people employed in the print industry five years ago but this has now dropped to around 12,000. However, a Revenue spokeswoman said it had no responsibility for the awarding of the tax forms printing contract, which was put out to tender by the National Procurement Service.
Mr Reilly said he was speaking out not because his Future Print company could have got the Revenue contract (it was previously held by Tallaght-based Serla Print ) but because he wanted a change of culture in how tenders are managed.
"We've got one of the best facilities in Europe. I've 112 people who've taken a 26pc pay cut and we're going into the High Court to have an examiner appointed -- and then you hear news about the Revenue going to Spain," he said.
The State had the first Lisbon Treaty information booklet printed in Portugal at a cost of around €400,000. But after protests by an industry lobby group, the Print and Packaging Forum, the Government decided to split the contract into four regional lots for the second Lisbon Treaty campaign. The booklet was printed by four Irish companies, each receiving contracts worth about €100,000.
A National Procurement Service spokesman said the Revenue tax forms contract was awarded to Vasform S.L, based in Bilbao in Spain, which submitted the lowest tender price of €225,000. He also said that splitting the contract up would reduce value for money and have a "negative impact" on the Revenue's ability to test the quality of the scannable forms.
Junior Minister at the Office of Public Works Martin Mansergh told the 'Today with Pat Kenny' show yesterday that there was no way he would engage in "protectionism" for the Irish print industry.