EAE Business School is pleased to present a report entitled ‘How do we pay nowadays?’, which focuses on payment delinquency in commercial credit in Spain in 2015. The report is a study into the implementation of Law 3/2004, designed to combat payment delinquency, ten years after its enactment. The report drafted by Pere Brachfield, Director of EAE’s Centre of Studies into Payment Delinquency involves an analysis of the legislation in place to fight payment delinquency in commercial transactions, as well as a comparative overview of key indicators in Spain and the Europe Union.
One of the key conclusions is that Public Administrations take 30% less time to pay freelancers’ invoices over the last year. It is precisely these freelancers, together with SMES and micro-enterprises, who are the groups that are worst affected by payment delinquency.
In comparison with the rest of the Europe Union, Spain’s rate of non-payment of due invoices of 5.7% is double the average rate of 2.85% across Europe. The same is true for the average payment period for B2B transactions, which is 95 days in the case of Spain compared to the European average of 47 days.
Moreover, the Autonomous Communities take an average of 42.89 days to pay their suppliers, representing a delay of 13 days more that the maximum period stipulated in the legislation. Aragón is the Autonomous Community that takes longest to pay its suppliers, followed by the community of Valencia and Extremadura.
ANALYSIS OF THE RESULTS OF THE APPLICATION OF LAW 3/2004
According to the report by EAE Business School, Law 3/2004 has not managed to reduce the problems caused by high rates of payment delinquency in the Spanish public and private sectors. While public institutions have are subject to a maximum payment period of 30 days, the report reveals that Public Administrations took an average of 80 days to settle invoices last year. However, this figure represents a drop of 30.2% compared to the average payment periods recorded in 2013.
Spain’s rate of non-payment of due invoices of 5.7% is double the European average of 2.85%. This results in high levels of financial loss in the creditor companies. Moreover, the average payment period in B2B transactions has climbed to 95 days, which is almost double the Europe average of 47 days.
PAYMENT DELINQUENCY BY AUTONOMOUS COMMUNITY
With respect to the Autonomous Communities, the study drafted by EAE Business School reveals that, in 2014, the Autonomous Communities took an average of 42.89 days to pay their suppliers, representing a delay of almost 13 days more that the maximum period of 30 days stipulated in the legislation in place to combat delinquency in terms of payments by Public Administrations.
Aragón is the Autonomous Community that takes longest to pay its suppliers, with an average payment period of 77.53 days, followed by the community of Valencia at 74.42 days and Extremadura at 72.3.
PAYMENT AND BILLING PERIODS OF COMPANIES LISTED ON THE IBEX 35
According to the report by EAE, the average payment period of non-financial companies listed on the stock market rose to 169 days, almost three times the maximum period stipulated by the law. Companies in the construction and real estate sector register the longest delays in settling their invoices, taking an average of 288 days. This sector is followed by the service and commercial sector with a payment period of 253 days, and the industrial sector at 230 days.
With respect to billing periods, the average period in which large listed Spanish companies take payment is 78 days, with an average in the construction sector of 125, in the industrial sector of 112 and in the service and commercial sector of 74.
MAIN REASONS FOR NON-PAYMENT AND THE WORST AFFECTED PARTIES
According to the report de EAE, the main reasons for non-payment among the business community include the long payment periods, which lead to high financial costs for companies in order to keep their cash flow under control, the amount of accounts payable on the balance sheets of Spanish companies, which are more than double the EU average, and the financial costs that Spanish companies face in order to finance their customers’ accounts. This last point is one of the reasons that Spanish companies are less competitive in a global market, as the costs are, for instance, three times higher that those faced by companies in northern Europe.
A total of 83% of Spanish companies avoid going to court to recover debts because of the slow speed of the justice system, while 60% opt to forego part of the overdue amount in order to reduced to debt acquired. Moreover, 70% of businesspeople have been forced to accept commercial agreements with suppliers under which they have to take payment in periods in excess of 60 days.
The report by Pere Brachfield highlights the fact that, in the Spanish business community, the groups that are worst affected by payment delinquency are SMEs, micro-enterprises and freelancers, for which high rates of payment delinquency pose significant liquidity problems.
“The end of 2014 marked the ten year anniversary of the enactment of Law 3/2004, resulting from the transposition of Directive 2000/35/CE of the European Parliament and Council, which established measures to combat payment delinquency in commercial transactions. However, a decade after the Law came into force, Spain continues to suffer from a chronic problem in terms of non-payment and non-compliance with payment periods. When Law 3/2004 was published in the Official State Gazette, many of us thought that Parliament had taken a giant step forward by creating a legislative framework to reduce payment delinquency, lower non-payment and penalize bad payment practices. Ten years on and we have been disappointed, as the Law to combat payment delinquency is hardly worth the paper it is written on. The problem is that payment delinquency is causing serious liquidity problems for Spanish companies in general and SMEs, micro-enterprises and freelancers, in particular, as well as causing significant financial losses that significantly affect the profitability, competitiveness and the survival of these types of company, leading to tens of thousands of company closures and the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs” concludes Pere Brachfield, Director of EAE Business School Centre of Studies into Payment Delinquency.