FINANCIAL SERVICES | Staff Reporter, Singapore

Local firms slack off in bills payment for Q4 2018

Prompt payments fell from 50.40% to 48.43% in a year.

Singapore-based firms continued to slack off in meeting their dues as payment performance declined for the third consecutive time in the fourth quarter of 2018, according to the Singapore Commercial Credit Bureau (SCCB).

Local firms’ prompt payments, wherein 90% of the bills are paid within the agreed payment terms, fell 6.57ppt to 48.43% from 50.40% in the same period last year. On a quarter-to-quarter basis, prompt payments also dipped 4.48ppt to 43.83% from 48.31% in Q3.

Slow payments inched downward 0.92ppt to 38.02% from 38.94% in Q3 and grew 1.10ppt to 38.02% from 36.92% in the same period last year. Meanwhile, partial payments rose 5.41ppt to 18.15% from 12.74% in Q3 and grew 5.47ppt to 18.15% from 12.68% last year.

Slow payments improved for construction (-4.05ppt), retail (-2.36ppt), and services (-0.71ppt) and increased for manufacturing (+1.16ppt) and wholesale (+0.35ppt).

The manufacturing sector saw further deterioration in slow payments owing to an increase in payment delays by manufacturers of petroleum and coal products, machinery and apparels. Meanwhile, payment delays within the wholesale sector deteriorated (+0.35ppt) due to an increase in payment delays within the wholesale trade of durable goods.

D&B Singapore CEO Audrey Chia commented, “Despite the fall in overall prompt payments for the final quarter of 2018, we are seeing continued improvements in slow payments across the majority of the sectors on a quarter-on-quarter basis. This is particularly the case for the construction, retail and services sectors. Compared to 2017, there has also been an increase in partial payments which meant lesser firms have deferred their payments completely in 2018.”

According to SCCB, the average proportion of slow payments dipped slightly from 39.74% in 2017 to 37.47% in 2018 whilst the average proportion of partial payments increase from 11.87% in 2017 to 14.31% in 2018. Meanwhile, the average proportion of prompt payments slid marginally from 48.40% in 2017 to 48.22% in 2018.

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