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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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In a first for history, PSX crosses the 77,000 milestone.

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At 77,213.31, the benchmark KSE-100 hit an all-time high, up 1,005.15, or 1.32%, from the previous close of 76,208.16.

The government’s readiness to seal an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) following the budget was cited by analysts as the reason for the upward trend.

Experts anticipate that in an attempt to bolster its position for a fresh bailout agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the budget for the fiscal year ending in June 2025 would set aggressive fiscal goals.

Budget for Pakistan, 2024–2025
Pakistan’s budget for the fiscal year 2024–25, with a total expenditure of Rs18.877 trillion, was presented on Wednesday by Minister of Finance and Revenue Muhammad Aurangzeb.

The Finance Minister, Muhammad Aurangzeb, outlined the budget highlights. He stated that the GDP growth target for the fiscal year 2024–25 is set at 3.6 percent, while the inflation rate is anticipated to stay at 12 percent.

He stated that while the primary surplus is anticipated to be 1.0 percent of GDP during the review period, the budget deficit to GDP is forecast to be 6.9 percent over the period under review.

According to the minister, tax income collection increased by 38% in the current fiscal year, and the province will receive Rs7,438 billion. The Federal Board of income expects to earn Rs12,970 billion in revenue for the upcoming fiscal year.

In contrast to the federal government’s projected net income of Rs9,119 billion, he stated that the federation’s non-tax revenue projections are set at Rs3,587 billion.

The federal government’s total outlays are projected to be Rs18,877 billion, with interest payments accounting for the remaining Rs9,775 billion.

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Pakistan currently has $14.38 billion in foreign exchange reserves.

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Pakistan’s commercial banks’ reserves, which stood at $5.28 billion at the conclusion of the week ending on June 7, rose by US$174 million, according to a central bank statement.

Reserving US$6.2 million less, the SBP now has US$9.10 billion in reserves. The causes for the decline in the reserves it had were not disclosed by the central bank.

The SBP released a statement that stated, “SBP reserves decreased by US$ 6 million to US$ 9,103.3 million during the week ended on 07-June-2024.”

The State Bank of Pakistan’s (SBP) foreign exchange reserves were reduced by US$ 63 million as a result of repaying external debt, with the reserves standing at US$ 9.093 billion as of earlier on June 6.

The central bank spokesperson said in a statement that as of the week that concluded on May 31, the nation’s total liquid foreign reserves were $14.31 billion.

In terms of net foreign reserves, commercial banks have US$ 5.22 billion of the overall foreign reserves, according to the SBP.

SBP reserves dropped by US$ 63 million to US$ 9,093.7 million during the week that ended on May 24, 2024, according to the announcement.

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In the local market, the price of gold plummets to Rs240,700/tola.

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Gold with a 24-karat purity level has dropped by Rs1200/tola on the local market.

Each tola of 24-karat gold is now selling for Rs240,700, with a further drop of Rs1029 bringing the price of 10 kilos of gold to Rs206,361. These figures are courtesy of the All Sarafa and Jewelers Association.

Meanwhile, after a $2 decline on the global market, one ounce of gold will be valued $2315.

A tola of gold was worth Rs 600 more on Wednesday.

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