According to the daily Expansión today, the commercial debt of Spanish public administrations with their private suppliers rose to 7.6% of GDP in the third quarter of 2021: “A study by the firm Estudio Económico shows that the commercial debt of public administrations grew by 19.907 billion euros in the third quarter of 2021, 28% with respect to the same period of the previous year. The total figure would stand at 89.373 billion euros, 7.6% of GDP, and would be the highest amount reached in a third quarter, and the fourth highest in the entire historical series”.
The report is based on the Bank of Spain’s statistics on outstanding accounts payable to non-financial institutions, which include “the value of financial claims arising from the time lags between the time when the transactions take place and the time when the corresponding payments are made”. They also analyse consolidated data, and therefore do not take into account inter-government debt. “According to this methodology, consolidated outstanding payment obligations therefore become a good indicator to approximate the volume of commercial debt that the public sector has with its private sector suppliers”, they add.
It is relevant that debt has almost returned to the levels of 2011, in the midst of the financial crisis, when these outstanding obligations reached an all-time high and came to represent 8.6% of GDP. Between 2007 and 2011, the outstanding obligations of public administrations with the private sector grew by 50.4%, “by more than 30.5 billion euros in unpaid invoices, to over 91.3 billion euros”.
If these figures are compared with other countries such as Germany, Italy and Portugal, the Spanish stock of unpaid bills (measured as a percentage of GDP) is higher and the evolution much more intense; the same is not true of the comparison with France.