Business

Local companies settled more bills on time

Local construction firms got off to a strong start 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 points 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 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, as opposed to a slow payment, which is when less than 50 per cent of a total bill is paid.

Slow payments recorded a drop of 1.18 percentage points from 36.92 per cent in the fourth quarter last year to 35.74 per cent in the first quarter.

Year on year, they fell by a bigger 7.07 percentage points from 42.81 per cent.

"The first quarter of this year 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.

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

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

Among sectors, the services and manufacturing industries ranked second and third for most delayed payments. - THE STRAITS TIMES

BUSINESS & FINANCE