44 billion zlotys. This is how much arrears Polish companies from these industries have

44 billion zlotys. This is how much arrears Polish companies from these industries have

Payment delays affect Polish companies, especially in transport. However, the construction industry is seeing improvement thanks to the National Reconstruction Plan.

Despite the threat of penalties and negative reputation, delays in settling financial obligations are a common problem in the Polish economy. The Skaner SME survey, conducted regularly for BIG InfoMonitor, reveals that as many as 94 percent companies in Poland are struggling with overdue payments. At the end of April, the arrears of companies from various industries exceeded a record PLN 44 billion.

Optimistic prospects in construction

The construction industry stands out positively from these problems. In the second quarter of 2024, the situation improved significantly – only 33%. construction companies experienced payment delays of 30 days, and 20 percent had to wait over two months. The recovery in the construction market has been visible since the beginning of the year, and the number of investments and building permits is increasing. Sławomir Grzelczak, president of BIG InfoMonitor, notes that the launch of the National Reconstruction Plan is a strong pro-development stimulus for the construction industry.

– The number of both investment starts and construction permits issued is growing. We are also facing an increase in demand for construction services due to the launch of the National Reconstruction Plan (KPO) – this is a decisive pro-development stimulus. The problem may be that if we do not negotiate with Brussels to extend the implementation time of investments financed from this source, they will all have to be settled in two years. This means that all projects will have to be implemented in parallel, so the demand for construction works will be concentrated in a very short time – says Sławomir Grzelczak, president of BIG InfoMonitor.

Payment problems in transport

Payment backlogs affect not only small businesses, but also large, successful companies that treat delayed payments as free credit. Small companies suffer the most from this, for which each unpaid invoice is a serious financial problem. In the transport industry, the situation is particularly difficult – over half of companies report payment delays of 30 days, and 48 percent up to 60 days. The debt of the transport sector already amounts to PLN 3.2 billion and concerns over 37,000 enterprises, which means that every tenth company has serious financial problems.

In trade, the situation is also complicated. As much as 53 percent traders had to wait over a month for payment, and 40 percent over two months. Payment backlogs also affect industry and services, where the situation has not improved significantly compared to the previous quarter. In the BIG InfoMonitor Register of Debtors and the BIK database, overdue liabilities of commercial companies amount to PLN 8.9 billion.

Financial penalties

Despite the European Union introducing restrictions on payment deadlines and high penalties for exceeding them, the problem of late payments remains unsolved. In Poland, fines imposed by the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection amounted to PLN 24 million last year, affecting only 34 companies. The president of BIG InfoMonitor emphasizes that entrepreneurs should check the financial honesty of their contractors before establishing cooperation.

– Fines imposed by the Office of Competition and Consumer Protection can be severe, the highest in 2023 was PLN 7.5 million, but they only apply to a handful of dishonest debtors. Last year, they were imposed on only 34 companies for a total amount of PLN 24 million. In addition, such regulations are insufficient in a situation where some contractors simply do not feel a moral obligation to repay their debts on time, and others, already caught in a snowball of arrears, simply do not have the means to settle their accounts on an ongoing basis. Therefore, it is worth checking their financial honesty before establishing business relations with someone – says Sławomir Grzelczak, president of BIG InfoMonitor.

Payment backlogs

Invoices not paid on time lead to financial bottlenecks that hamper the development of small and medium-sized enterprises. In Poland, the number of overly indebted companies increased by 8.5 thousand during the year, reaching almost 320 thousand. The total amount of their arrears amounted to PLN 44 billion at the end of April 2024.

The “SME Scanner” study conducted by the B2B Research and Solutions Institute Keralla Research on a sample of 500 companies shows that only every third company from the SME sector plans investments in the next 12 months, and every fourth plans to increase employment. Access to capital remains one of the biggest obstacles to the development of small businesses.

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