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Pakistan’s business confidence score drops to negative 4%

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  • 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.”

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.

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Moody’s says the IMF programme will increase Pakistan’s foreign financing.

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Moody’s, a reputable international rating agency, has stated that Pakistan’s chances of acquiring funding will increase as a result of the recent agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which offers dependable sources for that purpose from both friendly countries and international financial institutions.

According to a recent Moody’s analysis on Pakistan’s economy, social unrest and tensions could result from Pakistan’s ongoing inflation. The country’s economic reforms may be hampered by increased taxes and potential changes to the energy tariff, it continued.

Moody’s, on the other hand, agrees that the coalition government headed by Shehbaz Sharif of the PML-N is in danger of failing to secure an election mandate, which may potentially undermine the successful and long-lasting execution of economic reforms.

The government’s capacity to proceed with economic changes may be hampered by societal unrest and poor governance, according to Moody’s.

In order to appease the IMF by fulfilling a prerequisite for authorising a rescue package, the government raised the basic tariff on electricity, which coincided with the most recent increase in fuel prices announced on Monday. This report was released by Moody’s.

Food costs have increased in the nation, where the vast majority is experiencing an unprecedented crisis due to the high cost of living, following the government’s earlier presentation of a budget that included a large increase in income tax for the salaried classes and the implementation of GST on commodities like milk.

The most recent comments were made following Islamabad’s achievement of a staff-level agreement for a $7 billion contract that spans 37 months and is contingent upon final approval by the IMF Executive Board.

It states that Pakistan will need foreign financing totaling about $21 billion in 2024–2025 and $23 billion in 2025–2026, meaning that the country’s present $9.4 billion in reserves won’t be sufficient to cover its needs.

Therefore, according to Moody’s, Pakistan is in an alarming position with regard to its external debt, and the next three to five years will be extremely difficult for the formulation and implementation of policies.

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Base Of bilateral relations: China And Pakistan Reiterate Their Support For CPEC

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China-Pakistan economic corridor is a major project of the Belt and Road Initiative, and both countries have reiterated their commitment to it. It remains a fundamental aspect of their bilateral relations.

Vice Chairman Zhao Chenxin of the National Development and Reform Commission of China and Minister Ahsan Iqbal of Planning and Development met in Beijing, where Ahsan Iqbal made this assurance.

The summit made clear how committed China and Pakistan are to advancing their strategic cooperative partnership in all weather conditions.

The focus of the discussion was on how the CPEC was going, with both parties reviewing project development and discussing how the agreement made at the leadership level will lead to the launch of an enhanced version of the CPEC.

In order to improve trade, connectivity, and socioeconomic growth in the area, they emphasised the need of CPEC projects.

The Ml-I Project, the KKH realignment, and the Sukkur-Hyderabad motorway—the last remaining segment of the Karachi-Peshawar motorway network—were all to be expedited.

Expanding the partnership’s horizons to include technology, innovation, education, connectivity, and renewable energy sources was another topic of discussion.

Specifically in the special economic zones being built under the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation (CPEX), Vice Chairman NDRC emphasised the possibility of China investing more in Pakistan.

In addition to expressing confidence in the ongoing success of the two nations’ collaboration, Zhao Chenxin reiterated China’s support for Pakistan’s development aspirations.

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Pakistani government raises petrol prices

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A recent announcement states that the price of petrol has increased by Rs 9.99 per litre, to Rs 275.60 per litre.

The cost of high-speed diesel has also increased significantly, rising by Rs 6.18 a litre. Diesel is now priced at Rs 283.63 a litre.

Furthermore, kerosene now costs Rs 0.83 more per gallon.

The cost of products and services is predicted to rise in response to the increase in petroleum prices, further taxing household budgets and jeopardizing the stability of the economy.

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