Companies make more prompt payments in Q1

Even though the construction sector recorded the highest percentage of delayed bill payments for the ninth consecutive quarter, all payment indicators showed improvement.
Even though the construction sector recorded the highest percentage of delayed bill payments for the ninth consecutive quarter, all payment indicators showed improvement.PHOTO: ST FILE

Local construction firms got off to a strong start with payments in the first quarter, settling more bills on time and making fewer delayed payments.

Even though the construction sector recorded the highest percentage of delayed bill payments for the ninth consecutive quarter, all payment indicators showed improvement, according to a report yesterday from the Singapore Commercial Credit Bureau (SCCB).

Prompt payments rose by 0.8 percentage point, from 50.4 per cent in the fourth quarter of last year to 51.2 per cent in the first quarter of this year. Year-on-year, they climbed by a more visible 5.76 percentage points from 45.44 per cent in the first quarter of last year.

A prompt payment refers to 90 per cent of a total bill being paid within the agreed payment terms.

Slow payments, meanwhile, posted a drop of 1.18 percentage points from 36.92 per cent in the fourth quarter of last year to 35.74 per cent in the first quarter. Year-on-year, they fell by 7.07 percentage points from 42.81 per cent.

A slow payment is when less than 50 per cent of a total bill is paid within the agreed terms.

"The first quarter of 2018 saw a strong start for the overall payment performance of local firms, as evident from the improvements seen across the majority of the sectors," said Ms Audrey Chia, D&B Singapore's chief executive officer.

STRONG START

The first quarter of 2018 saw a strong start for the overall payment performance of local firms, as evident from the improvements seen across the majority of the sectors.

'MS AUDREY CHIA, CEO of D&B Singapore.

D&B Singapore compiles the figures by monitoring more than 1.6 million payment transactions of firms operating through the SCCB.

She noted that partial payments hit a near six-year high, edging up from 12.68 per cent in the fourth quarter of last year to 13.06 per cent in the first quarter, "which further reflects the greater emphasis that firms have placed in fulfilling their debts partially if not completely".

Slow payments fell quarter-on-quarter for three of the five industries surveyed - construction, manufacturing and wholesale. Two industries,retail and services, made more slow payments than in the previous quarter, compared with one industry in the survey of the previous quarter.

The construction sector - while still most guilty of delayed payments - showed notable improvement. Its level of slow payments dropped 7.69 percentage points, from 56.83 per cent in the fourth quarter of last year to 49.14 per cent in the first quarter.

Ms Chia said: "Despite the anaemic outlook of the construction sector, slow payments among firms in the sector saw the largest improvements, declining to below half of total payment transactions for the first time in nearly three quarters."

Among sectors, services and manufacturing ranked second and third for most delayed payments.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 04, 2018, with the headline 'Companies make more prompt payments in Q1'. Print Edition | Subscribe