FINANCIAL SERVICES | Staff Reporter, Singapore

14% of SMEs' debt turned to arrears in 2017

This is an improvement from 2014, when 25% wasn't paid on time.

In 2017, about 14% of small to medium enterprises' (SME) debt was unpaid after 90 days of expiry, DP Information Group (DP Info) revealed.

According to a study, this is an improvement from three years ago, when 25% of SMEs' debt was unpaid on time.

"When a bill remains unsettled for this long it is often an indication of financial problems within the debtor company," DP Info said.

The transport and storage sector recorded the biggest drop in severely delinquent debts during the last three years. In 2014, 36% of the value of all their debts were unpaid after 90 days. In 2017 the proportion was just 9%.

Another industry which recorded a significant reduction is manufacturing which had 33% of all debt deemed severely delinquent in 2014, compared to just 15% in 2017.

Only two industries recorded an increase in severely delinquent debts since 2014 – the construction sector (17% in 2014 to 24% in 2017) and the information and communications sector (21% in 2014 to 23% in 2017).

Dev Dhiman, managing director, South East Asia and Emerging Markets for Experian, commented, "During the last three years, SMEs have adjusted to the restrictions on foreign manpower and the need to invest in technology and innovation. As these adjustments have been made, the cash flow position of most SMEs has improved, freeing up funds for the prompt settlement of debts.” 

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