The Forum for Private Businesses (FPB) has said that a change in the government's policies on the procurement its of goods and services would help the economy.A report commissioned by the FPB said that removing preferred suppliers and allowing government contracts to be open to public tender would improve competition and therefore would save public money and create fairer markets.Equally, the FPB criticised the government for not seeking to make changes to the World Trade Organisation's (WTO) agreement on government procurement. The FPB says that, in its current form, the agreement only guards against national protectionism for about $240 billion of the estimated $5.3 trillion of goods and services that governments procure worldwide.The FPB's chief executive, Nick Goulding, explained that fast action was needed if the system is to change. He said: "A new agreement allowing SME-friendly measures and extending anti-protectionist coverage is needed."Moreover, we have suggested in our paper that it might even be possible, but the government would have to act now to get the EU to table a revised agreement by March," he concluded. Elsewhere, research carried out by online credit checking company e-bcm predicted that SMEs are set to suffer if interest rates continue to rise. "As customers rein in their borrowing small firms will find it harder to collect payments and, if they run an overdraft or loan, as most small businesses do, they will find it increasingly difficult to finance that debt," said e-bcm's commercial director Dennis Scott.© Adfero Ltd