The American company Amazon is reportedly guiding UK government ministers in the procurement of goods and services post-Brexit, while accumulating millions of pounds-worth of contracts, writes the Mirror.
The firm had been granted a seat on a “secretive” panel set up by the Cabinet Office to determine public sector procurement after the UK’s divorce with the European Union, says the outlet.
In the past five years, Amazon is claimed to have won 82 central government contracts, worth £225million, with agreements in place allowing local councils to procure supplies in one marketplace.
The company’s business representatives are believed to have attended two meetings in 2019 with Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden, who was a Cabinet Office minister at the time.
This year Amazon was represented at two meetings with Minister of State for Efficiency and Transformation
Lord Agnew; details of the minutes of which have not been revealed.
Paul Monaghan, co-founder of the Fair Tax Mark independent certification scheme, which highlighted Amazon’s role on the “secretive” panel, deplored the company’s moves as “truly frightening”.
“The manner in which Amazon is embedding itself into national and regional public procurement in the UK has long been cause for concern. We are close to the point where it will be impossible for anyone else to compete,” said Monaghan.
The retailer has previously been criticised for its track record on paying the UK corporation tax.
“Amazon’s reward for its exploitative business model is a seat at the table on an influential Government board advising on public procurement, on top of the multi-million-pound Government contracts it receives,” said General Secretary of the British Trades Union Congress (TUC) Frances O’Grady.
In 2018/19, the UK government spent £292billion procuring goods, works and services from external suppliers, reports the outlet, with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson last year pledging to reform public procurement rules after Brexit to install a simpler regime, geared towards promoting British business and the local economy.
There has not been any comment from the UK Cabinet Office on the report regarding Amazon’s alleged involvement, but a spokesperson was cited as saying:
“This panel is an important part of our engagement as we look to improve procurement rules.”
Amazon has not offered any official comment on the report.