THE Government is to force the HSE and state agencies to pay their bills within 15 days as it extends a scheme that has seen government departments make nearly all of their payments to businesses in that time frame.
Small business minister John Perry yesterday said he was extending the "prompt payment" scheme to cover state bodies as well as government departments. Since its inception last year only the central government has had to abide by the scheme, which aims for all invoices to be cleared within 30 days.
"[From July 1, the scheme will now cover] the HSE, local authorities, state agencies and all other public sector bodies excluding the commercial semi-state bodies," he said.
"Central government is making their contribution to assisting the cash flow of their business suppliers; it is now the turn of the broader public sector to match this lead and play its part in assisting SME suppliers."
The minister went on to call on the private sector, particularly those he described as "our large key companies", to pay their bills to SMEs promptly as well. The change came as the Government revealed its departments had paid 97.5pc of the value of their bills to suppliers within 15 days of receiving an invoice during the first three months of the year.
ISME's director of research Jim Curran said the extension of the scheme was vital to businesses that were desperately trying to stay above water.
"The key issue is the extension of the scheme beyond just the departments."