Thursday Dec 08 2022

Pakistan's business confidence score drops to negative 4%

A general view of Gwadar port in Gwadar, Pakistan October 4, 2017. — Reuters/File
A general view of Gwadar port in Gwadar, Pakistan October 4, 2017. — Reuters/File

  • OICCI conducts Business Confidence Index Survey – Wave 22 from Sept-Oct 2022.
  • Survey reveals highest drop in confidence was recorded in “services sector”.
  • Manufacturing sector records net confidence level of positive 3% despite drop of 20%.

KARACHI: Pakistan’s business confidence score (BCS) decreased to negative 4% in September-October 2022, against positive 17% in March-April 2022, Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry (OICCI) announced on Wednesday.

The OICCI’s comprehensive Business Confidence Index (BCI) Survey – Wave 22 was conducted throughout the country from September to October 2022.

It revealed that the highest drop in confidence was recorded in the “services sector” (24%), followed by “retail and wholesale trade” (22%), and the manufacturing sector (20%). 

The survey sample consisted of 42% respondents from the manufacturing sector, 33% from the services sector, and 25% from the retail/wholesale trade.

Despite recording a significant drop in confidence of 20%, the manufacturing sector recorded a net confidence level of positive 3%, whereas the services and retail sectors stood at negative 8% and 14% respectively.

Commenting on the BCS, OICCI President Ghias Khan said, “The substantial decline in the overall Business Confidence to negative 4% is regrettable but not surprising considering the highly challenging political and economic situation during the past six months.”

-OICCI survey
-OICCI survey

Besides very high inflation and increased fuel prices, significant currency devaluation also dampened economic activity. 

“Record level of rains during August leading to severe flooding in Sindh and other parts of the country further restricted the business activities,” he added.

OICCI BCI Survey, conducted periodically face to face, across the country in nine cities, covering 80% of the GDP, with higher weightage given to key business centres of Karachi, Lahore, Rawalpindi-Islamabad, and Faisalabad.

The OICCI Survey feedback covers business environment at regional, national, sectorial, and own business entity levels in the past six months, as well as the anticipated business and investment environment in the next six months.

Overall, more than half (56% vs 19% in previous wave) survey respondents were negative about the business environment in the past six months, and going forward only net 2% (vs 18% in the previous survey) were positive for the next six months. 

Commenting on the business situation for the next six months, OICCI Vice President Amir Paracha said, “These are challenging times, and the authorities are doing all they can to navigate the enormous challenges in front including managing inflation, restricted availability of foreign exchange and resource constraints.”

Key stakeholders, especially foreign investors would continue to support the authorities in taking long-term policy measures to streamline the economic fundamentals including fair taxation for all, and facilitate business and investment in the country, he added. 

The sentiments of the OICCI members, the leading foreign investors, who were randomly included in the survey, stand at positive 6%, substantially lower than the positive 33% in the previous wave. Foreign investors have in the past also shown higher confidence than non-members.

Commenting on OICCI members' survey feedback, Ghias Khan, observed that “foreign investors' feedback could have been more positive but for serious concerns on few critical issues like the undue delay in revising the pharma pricing and the extreme delays in overseas remittances for goods, services, and dividends”.

Such actions were seriously counterproductive for attracting foreign direct investment in the country. “The three major threats to business growth identified in the survey are inflation (78%), high taxation (71%), and currency devaluation (70%) which could potentially slowdown business growth in Pakistan, he noted.

Looking ahead, only 18% (34% in Wave 21) expect expansion in business operations, 2% (21% in Wave 21) planning new capital investment, and 7% of respondents (positive 16% in Wave 21) expect increased employment in their respective businesses.

Originally published in The News