A NEW European directive on procurement came into force on April 17.

It encourages smaller contract lots, and also stresses the "overriding concept of economic advantage".

Liz Cameron, chief executive of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said: "We need to be questioning what the Scottish Government are going to be doing in relation to the new EU directives, specifically their interpretation of what they regard as the most economically advantageous tender.-How are they going to measure this?."

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She asked what was needed for a "higher weighting" for local economic factors.

Stuart Mackinnon of the Federation of Small Businesses said: "Some buyers are making a real effort to squeeze every drop of value out of every pound they spend, others are focused narrowly on cash savings, and that can have unforeseen consequences for local economies. Councils, agencies and departments are terrified of being criticised for wasting money. But the most recent report from Audit Scotland suggests they are not going to criticise local authorities for taking a wider view."

According to a report for the Jimmy Reid Foundation: "The potential wins are enormous - hundreds of millions of pounds could be injected into the Scottish economy."

The Herald asks the Scottish Government: to toughen its bill, and its future guidance, to help all agencies prioritise the local economy.