KARACHI: Businesses are mostly optimistic about the country’s economic performance in the immediate future, according to the first edition of the Business Optimism Index released by Dun & Bradstreet, a global database and risk management company.
Based on responses from 400-500 companies from all segments of the economy, the survey aims to assess the country’s business outlook on a quarterly basis, said the company’s country manager Nauman Lakhani at a press briefing on Monday.
Large-scale companies are relatively more optimistic than small and medium enterprises in terms of their expected sales, selling prices, volumes sold, number of employees and profits.
Companies in the services sector have a more positive outlook than those in the manufacturing and trading segments. Respondents consider taxes, competition and unfavourable business regulations as key factors hindering their growth, the survey shows.
The composite score on the Business Optimism Index is 144.6 points compared to the benchmark neutral value of 100 points. This reflects an upbeat business sentiment in contrast to mixed trends found in similar surveys recently conducted by large trade bodies and polling agencies.
For example, a survey by the Overseas Investors Chamber of Commerce and Industry released earlier this month showed more than half of the respondents were concerned about the consistency and predictability of monetary and fiscal policies. However, 75pc foreign investors participating in the survey indicated their willingness to recommend new FDI in Pakistan to their parent companies.
Similarly, a perception survey conducted by the American Business Council in December 2019 showed 61pc of its members believed the business climate had worsened.
According to a Gallup Pakistan business survey conducted between October and December 2019, over 60pc of the respondents in Punjab, Sindh and the federal capital indicated the economy was heading in the wrong direction.
Although Dun & Bradstreet set up shop in Pakistan last year, it claims to have acquired 50-60 local clients already. Besides other functions, the company performs “pre-KYC” for international companies that want to do business with Pakistan-based entities. It gathers market intelligence and verifies the credentials of potential business partners for its clients. It claims to have in-depth data on 350 million companies operating in all UN-recognised countries.
As for Pakistan, Mr Lakhani said the company has data on 100,000 businesses of all kinds and nature. The number of companies registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) was 107,062 at the end of October last year.
The local clients of Dun & Bradstreet belong to banking, asset management, insurance, information technology, textile and pharmaceutical sectors, he said.
Published in Dawn, February 11th, 2020