The Small Firms Association has called for a change in Ireland's late payment culture, which it says is strangling small firms.

The association said small firms are waiting, on average, 62 days for payment and that this causes serious cash flow problems, which in turn affects competitiveness.

The SFA is calling for a voluntary private sector 'prompt payment charter' and the extension of the voluntary 15-day payment period to all Government agencies, including the HSE.

Since 2009, central government departments have been obliged to pay their suppliers within 15 days of receipt of a valid invoice.

The association is also calling for the introduction of a cost-effective enforcement mechanism, through the extension of the remit of the Small Claims Court for business debts up to €5,000.