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KARACHI: Business confidence continues on steep downwards trajectory amidst economic crises, as Gallup Business Confidence Index shows no recovery in Q1 2023.

According to a Gallup Pakistan Survey with the business owners in the first quarter of 2023 for the Gallup Business Confidence Index report, pessimism about the conditions and prospects of their businesses had risen among owners - last year’s political instability has carried over to combine with various economic crises and exacerbate business insecurity.

The survey is the ninth of a quarterly Business Confidence Survey by Gallup Pakistan. Business Confidence Index is an important barometer capturing the sentiments of business community in any country and used across the world by policy makers. The survey was conducted in the first quarter of 2023 with around 520 businesses across Pakistan.

Survey: businesspeople pessimistic about prospects

On all 3 strands the value was negative which meant that more businesses had lack of confidence in the business situation of Pakistan. The number fell slightly during the current quarter, carrying on the downward trend observed since the end of the previous year.

Bilal Ijaz Gilani, Executive Director Gallup Pakistan and Chief architect of the Gallup Pakistan Business Confidence Index Pakistan notes: “Businesses in Pakistan are faced with multiple calamities: decades high inflation killing consumer purchasing power, absolute lack of stability in political system causing overall despair not just in business community but their consumers and lastly no end in sight with respect to looming threat of sovereign default. In past many decades of reading the pulse of business community in Pakistan, we have not seen such dire times being reported.”

Some 66 percent of businesses perceive themselves facing bad or worse conditions. There is a 7 percent increase in those businesses reporting very bad business conditions. Slight fall observed in Gallup Pakistan Business Situation Net score this quarter. Around 70 percent of businesses perceive bad conditions in Sindh and KPK, and 64 percent in Punjab. Most business types reported the business being in a bad state. In the construction, cosmetics, and industrial machines/ equipment sector there was a 50-50 split between good and bad conditions

During the quarter under review, 7 percent more businesses than in the previous quarter think that their business will be worse off in the future. 61 percent in Q1 2023 said future expectations are negative, while only 38 percent expect things to improve at all. The Net Future Business Confidence score has worsened by 11 percent since the previous quarter and is now at -22 percent.

Business community perceptions regarding the direction of the country remain consistent with the previous quarter. Negative perceptions are at an all-time high, with 90 percent of businesses surveyed opining that the country is headed in the wrong direction.

Similar to Q4 2022, inflation is the most cited problem in this quarter that businesses (45%) would like the government to solve. Compared to last quarter, 10percent more want government to help with currency depreciation but 7 percent fewer believe the government should provide relief on utility prices.

More than half (57percent) of businesses surveyed have not undergone layoffs in the last quarter, but 38percent do report a decrease in their workforce during this time. 58percent of businesses surveyed said that they raised average output prices in the last quarter. Of these, 45percent raised those prices between 20percent and 50percent.

The majority (72percent) of businesses surveyed are concerned by Pakistan’s potential default. Of them, nearly half (49percent) expresses significantly high concern. 17percent of survey respondents are not concerned at all.

Some 44percent of businesses surveyed said ‘yes’ to daily load-shedding this quarter, which is 28percentless than the previous quarter. Of those businesses that said yes to load-shedding, nearly 3 out of 4 (73percent) this quarter reports facing 4 hours or less of load-shedding every day, compared to the previous quarter when a similar proportion of businesses (77percent) reported getting 5-6 hours or less.

More than three quarters of the businesses surveyed has not established a digital presence for themselves. 76percent do not have WhatsApp for business, 86percent do not have a website, and 85% do not have a Facebook account.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023


Comments are closed.

KU Apr 08, 2023 11:50am
Encouraging business and trade is the least important agenda among the government's priorities. Like an average greedy species, they are more focused on amending laws to prolong their rule, the news of amending the election commission's authority to announce elections is being presented in NA, so that they can create another hurdle in the democratic process.
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Shahid Khan Apr 08, 2023 04:08pm
How come business confidence would increase when the government openly defies Supreme Court?
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