Key Points:

New Zealand businesses are steadily getting slower and slower at paying their bills.

Debt-paying behaviours appear to be impacted by the recessionary climate and continued fallout from the credit crisis, with payment terms rising by four days since the September quarter of 2007.

The latest figures in Dun & Bradstreet's (D&B's) quarterly trade payment analysis reveal that payment terms across all industries are at 46.2 days, which means businesses are being denied access to their own cash for more than two weeks longer than the standard term.

Key findings:

* Small business (up to five employees) is the slowest to pay, averaging 50.1 days to settle accounts in the September 2008 quarter. Those with 50-199 employees are quickest at 45.1 days;

* Public companies are slower to pay than their private counterparts, averaging 49.3 and 46.2 days respectively to pay their bills;

* Electricity, Gas and Sanitary services is the slowest payer at 53 days while Forestry is quickest and the only sector to pay in less than 40 days;

* New Zealand is the 7th worst payer {see chart at right] in the Asia-Pacific region.