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 25 Feb 2009

Singapore consumer bad debt on the rise

The number of consumers in Singapore struggling to pay their credit card bills and personal loans rose in the fourth quarter, data showed on Tuesday, as recession deepened in the city-state.

The proportion of consumers who had delinquent personal loans -- due for 30 or more days -- rose to 5.34 percent in December from 3.73 percent a year earlier, according to private forecaster Credit Bureau Singapore.

The rate rose from 4.24 percent in September 2008. The delinquency rate was still less than 6.05 percent in the second quarter of 2003 when Singapore was hit by the SARS virus epidemic.

Tuesday's data showed the percentage of consumers who missed at least one payment on one or more of their credit card bills climbed to 1.67 percent in December from 1.48 percent a year earlier. The rate in September 2008 was 1.45 percent.

"The worsening economy, the rising unemployment level, and the need to ramp up their year-end spending, have all taken a toll on consumers' ability to manage their credit card and personal loan payments in Q4 2008," said William Lim, executive director, Credit Bureau Singapore.

Like other export-reliant Asian economies, Singapore has been pummelled by a collapse in consumer demand as the global economy slows down sharply. Singapore's economy shrank in the fourth quarter by a seasonally adjusted, annualised pace of 16.9 percent and could shrink more than 5 percent in 2009.




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