BUILDING & ENGINEERING, ECONOMY | Staff Reporter, Singapore

Construction lagged other sectors in fulfilling arrears in Q1

But the proportion of slow payments dipped to 49.14%.

Overall payment performance of Singaporean firms has climbed for the second consecutive quarter, the Singapore Commercial Credit Bureau (SCCB) revealed. On a QoQ basis, prompt payments rose 0.8ppt to 51.20%, slow payments dropped 1.8ppt to 35.74%, whilst partial payments inched upwards by 0.38 ppt to 13.06%.

According to a report, the construction sector registered the highest proportion of payment delays (49.14%) for the ninth consecutive quarter since Q1 2016. However, slow payments improved moderately, falling to below half of the total payment transactions within the sector.

QoQ slow payments dropped visibly by 7.69ppt from 56.83% in Q4 2017, thanks to declines in special trade contractors, building construction, and heavy construction. On a YoY basis, slow payments fell by 6.08ppt from 55.22% in Q1 2017.

Meanwhile, slow payments within the manufacturing sector saw further improvements owing mainly to a fall in slow payments by manufacturers of furniture and fittings, lumber and wood products and apparels. Slow payments dropped by 2.42ppt QoQ and 7.62 ppt YoY to 36.88%.

SCCB noted that despite accounting for the lowest proportion of slow payments, the retail sector saw a slight increase in payment delays. It blamed “a rise in slow payments by automobile retailers as well as retailers of food and beverage.” The proportion of slow payments inched slightly upwards by 1.42ppt QoQ and 9.1ppt YoY to 28.98%.

Payment delays within the services sector also worsened slightly in Q1. QoQ slow payments inched up by 0.35ppt to 38.19%. YoY, they dropped by 6.62ppt.

Meanwhile, the wholesale trade sector registered the second lowest proportion of payment delays due largely to improvements seen within the wholesale trade of durable goods. QoQ payment delays slipped by 1.94ppt from 34.72% in Q4 2017 to 32.78%. On a YoY basis, slow payments by 6.44ppt from 39.22%.

D&B Singapore CEO Audrey Chia said noted that the first quarter of 2018 saw a strong start for the overall payment performance of local firms as evident from the improvements seen across majority of the sectors. “Partial payments have in particular hit a near 6-year high since Q1 2012, which further reflects the greater emphasis which firms have placed in fulfilling their debts partially if not completely,” she added.

Prompt payment refers to when 90% or more of total bills are paid within the agreed payment terms. Slow payment refers to when less than 50% of total bills are paid within the agreed terms. Partial payment refers to when between 50% and 90% of total bills are paid within the agreed payment terms.  

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