Firms here quicker to pay their bills with slow payments dropping to a one-year low in Q2

SINGAPORE - Firms have been quicker to settle their bills, with slow payments hitting a new one-year low in the second quarter of this year, the Singapore Commercial Credit Bureau said on Monday (July 3).

The retail and wholesale sectors registered the lowest proportion of slow payments.

Slow payments made up slightly less than 40 per cent of total transactions in the three months to June, while prompt payments accounted for slightly more than 50 per cent, its data showed.

Prompt payments are those where at least 90 per cent of a bill is paid within the agreed terms. In slow payments, more than 50 per cent of the outstanding amount comes in after the deadline.

The credit bureau compiles quarterly figures by monitoring more than 1.6 million payment transactions of firms.

Slow payments accounted for 38.47 per cent of overall payments in the second quarter, down from 42.61 per cent in the same period a year ago.

Prompt payments rose to 50.31 per cent cent of payments overall, from 45.92 per cent in the same period in 2016.

Delays in paying up dropped broadly across all industries in the second quarter, and were most prevalent in the construction sector for six quarters running since the first quarter of last year (2016).

Construction may have had the most delays - slow payments made up more than 40 per cent of all transactions in the quarter- but that has improved slightly owning to "an increase in public residential and non-residential projects", the credit bureau said.

"Slow payments within the retail sector have improved marginally due to strong growth in retailers of luxury goods despite the weakness experienced by retailers of food and beverage," said the credit bureau.

It added the wholesale trade sector experienced the second largest fall in payment delays, mainly owning to a fall in slow payments by wholesalers of durable goods.