Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Tunisia - an act of economic sabotage as well as murder

Another off topic post - it seems to be a week for it.

I had a holiday in Tunisia a couple of years ago.  Two families with young children had a great time in Monastir - down the coast from Sousse where the terrorist attack happened. 

It is shocking to think of such terrible things happening to holiday makers, particularly on a Friday during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. 

Tunisia is sandwiched between Libya and Algeria, both deeply troubled countries with long term problems - but cushioned (or encouraged) by oil wealth.  Tunisia is small and depends very much on its tourist economy to support its new democracy after years of a money grabbing dictator (and I mean that literally: he is reported to have taken gold bullion with him on his flight to exile in Jeddah).  The attacks were not just on western holidaymakers, but on the Tunisian economy.  The intention is to cut off funds from tourism, impoverishing all Tunisians, and creating a suitable environment for more radicalisation (i.e. poverty).

I wish all the holidaymakers well, but also the vast majority of the Tunisian people who need our support through our visits and foreign exchange.  And there is plenty to see - as well as the Mediterranean, there are wonderful Roman remains (including of the city they built on the legendary Phoenician city of Carthage, and the pictured arena at El Jem).  When you judge it safe, I hope you will go visit.  Maybe even this year.  There are risks everywhere, and Tunisia needs the solidarity of the West, not us turning our backs and leaving them to their fate.

From the procurement point of view - this creates an interesting problem for the travel companies.  They have many holidaymakers who will want to rearrange their holidays, and the travel companies will be keen to do so in order to maintain their income.  But where? Greece has its own problems at the moment.  Turkey being a (safe and beautiful) Muslim country will not appeal to many holidaymakers.   Same applies to Egypt and the lovely Sharm el Sheikh, and to Morrocco (though I prefer the wonders of Marrakech to the beaches).  Will the hotels in Spain be cranking up their prices and looking for a windfall?  Are the travel company buyers in a position to bargain?  Can they extract moderation this year in return for promises for next year?    It will be interesting to see.

Monday, 29 June 2015

Plastic Bags and recycling

I used to work in the plastics industry, so here is a rather different type of blog post. 

I got a link to an article on Spotichemi which matches my views/biases (delete to taste).  A lot of negative comments are made about plastics which take no account of the balancing benefits - such as lightweight packaging, and improved food shelf life.  In any case, though plastics are visible, they are a tiny part of overall use of petrochemicals - and packaging is a small subset of that.

The focus on eliminating plastic bags is like swapping out the bulb in your fridge for a low energy one - whilst laudable in intent there may be unmeasured costs, and it is surely not the most important thing to focus on.  In your house you should probably start with your boiler/radiator/thermostat.  In the outside world, then avoiding oil as a heating fuel and increasing car mpg would have far larger impacts and are also relatively easy to achieve.

Getting rid of plastic bags may make you feel better - but does it really achieve anything of note, apart making people feel better about themselves as they load their paper bagged groceries into their 4x4?

Feel free to disagree.

Friday, 19 June 2015

Further Public Contracts Regulations 2015 courses

My colleagues at BIP Solutions have got just a few more courses to run before we have a bit of a break for the summer.  The Autumn is pretty packed for me both in the UK and overseas, so I am reasonably pleased that we have a time to regroup before then . We shall be tweaking the courses as we become clearer about the new PCR2015, and what people want to know about it.

In the meantime I shall be presenting the existing (and already modified) event in Manchester next Tuesday 23rd June 2015 at the Marriott Renaissance - details here.  Last time we ran this event in Manchester it sold out - so I hope there will still be room for you if you want to go along.  We always take a few extra copies just in case.

The next day (Wednesday 26th June 2015) I shall be running the event at the Thistle in Newcastle Upon Tyne, and then that will be it for me for open courses in June.  One of my colleagues will be running the event in London on the 25th (at the very nice Kingsway hotel)

Monday, 1 June 2015

Return from the USA

I've just returned from a couple of weeks in Florida, catching the sun, going to Disney and boring the kids at Kennedy Space Center.  You might expect that I would come back with some interesting tales of procurement, or at least shopping - but you will be mostly disappointed.  I will say that HockeyMonkey are very good for (ice) hockey kit, which we got delivered to our hotel (a little reward for the kids for winning the EIHA U14 National Championship - sorry to be a proud parent on your time), and that the Memorial Day sales are really quite good.

The more interesting thing for me, as a once frequent visitor to the USA who has been absent for 17 years, was the reminder of the strength of the US economy.  Ok, Orlando is a rather special case - particularly on Memorial Day weekend.  But the sheer number and energy of businesses and shops is quite remarkable for a Brit.  I am sure that Americans will tell me that things could be better, but it was a reminder that this is the number one economy in the world for good reason.

I do hope to be back rather quicker.  In the meantime, here is my favourite purchase from the trip.

In the meantime, there have been some changes to the training plan (as always) and I shall give the details of those later in the week once I have reconfirmed arrangements.