Labour MEP Phil Prendergast has called for the speedy implementation of an EU directive covering late payments to businesses, following new figures showing the average waiting time for settling invoices in Ireland is 71 days.
Ms Prendergast said: “Businesses are facing enough problems accessing credit and maintaining cash flow without having to waste time chasing cheques. Implementing the Late Payment Directive would help address this problem.
“The directive entitles businesses in certain circumstances to charge a penal interest rate if they have to wait more than 30 days for payment and they can also charge a minimum recovery cost of €40. This would be a significant deterrent to late payment of invoices.
“The Directive creates particular responsibilities for public authorities to pay within 30 days, though certain types of public body can have a maximum of 60 days to pay.
“This directive came into force on the 15th of March last year but does not have to be put into effect until March next year. I understand drafting of the Irish legislation for transposing directive has not begun yet.
“The Government has introduced a wide range of business supports since it came into office, so I’m surprised that implementing this directive was not one of those actions.
“I’m also amazed that, according to ISME, public bodies are still holding up payments to their suppliers. At a time of crisis for Irish business, public bodies must recognise their responsibilities.
“We hear, time and time again, of viable SMEs going to the wall because of non-payment or late payment. Simply settling bills on time is a practical, no-cost way of supporting the small businesses that are the life-blood of the Irish economy.”