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Small firms 'to be paid quicker'

THE Government has pledged to pay its bills with small firms much quicker than it does at the moment.

The 'Framework for the Supply of Purchasing Cards' will see procurement managers in the public sector given the use of what is in effect a credit card to pay suppliers for small pieces of work with an average value of €350.

This will mean that small suppliers will be paid within four days and free up an estimated €200m of funds that currently have to be invoiced and processed by each department.

The scheme was unveiled by Procurement Minister Brian Hayes.

"The use of these purchasing cards will eliminate the need to process individual low-value invoices as they will be consolidated into a single monthly electronic statement supported by detailed reports," he said.

The State will then settle the bill with Ulster Bank and Bank of Ireland, which are backing the scheme, at a later date.