Six more major companies have joined Betaalme.nu, or ‘Pay Me Now’, the Dutch government initiative that aims to ensure that SMEs’ invoices are paid more quickly by their customers. The new participants are Unilever Netherlands, private bank Van Lanschot, NIBC Bank, dentistry products supplier Basiq Dental, agri-industrial group Royal Cosun and credit management services company Intrum Justitia.

The latest signings bring the total to 40 large companies and organisations that participate in Betaalme.nu. Unilever is the tenth AEX index constituent on the Euronext Amsterdam exchange to join the scheme. Participating companies commit to faster payment of their SME suppliers. Betaalme.nu aims to release €2.5bn for Dutch SMEs from their outstanding invoices.

Henk Kamp, the Dutch minister of economic affairs, said: “The government is committed to promoting shorter payment periods through Betaalme.nu. I very much appreciate the efforts of the parties that have joined Betaalme.nu and call other large companies to follow suit, promoting economic growth and employment in our country.” He added that businesses see this as part of their corporate social responsibility.

Earlier in February, during a Chamber of Commerce initiative called Finance Week, roadshows were held in five Dutch cities in which SMEs and freelancers discussed the issues about timely payment of bills. Betaalme.nu is also launched an investigation into the problems that SMEs and freelancers face in collecting bills, and what improvements they consider important.

Rick Terra, director of Intrum Justitia, said: “SMEs have suffered from long payment periods and late payments, and so are forced to treat their own suppliers the same way. This is a vicious circle that must be broken in order to stimulate growth. We therefore strongly support Betaalme.nu.”

Constant Korthout, CFO of Van Lanschot, said: “We agree wholeheartedly with this initiative. In this relatively simple way we can jointly improve the business climate in the Netherlands. Paying on time is just part of doing business properly. We need to rely on each other.”

Gerard van der Linden, financial controller of Basiq Dental, commented: “In the dental market in which we operate, it is important to quickly deliver orders to our customers, dentists. To achieve this we find a good relationship with our suppliers is important.”

Herman Dijkhuizen, CFO of NIBC, said: “Since the establishment of NIBC we focus on medium-sized businesses, and it is in our DNA to assist the driving force behind the Dutch economy. It is therefore logical that NIBC joins this valuable initiative, Betaalme.nu. NIBC uses payment terms of less than 30 days after the invoice date. We constantly keep our eyes open for opportunities to shorten the payment period and thus to strengthen the relationship with our suppliers.”