Business Confidence Survey: Businesses maintain positive outlook over near term

BTJ Desk Report
Business Confidence Survey: Businesses maintain positive outlook over near term

The overall Business Confidence Index (BCI) for 2022 stood at 74.4, indicating a positive outlook for business conditions over the next six months, according to the Bangladesh Business Confidence Survey Report 2022-23.

Business entities across Bangladesh are confident that the volume of orders for the manufacturing sector, demand for services in the service sector, selling prices, and business activity will increase in the next six months.

As a result, businesses are willing to expand their employment and investment over the same period.

However, business entities, especially in the manufacturing sector, have low confidence in costs, indicating the need for immediate action to address the cost burden of businesses, including the cost of electricity, water, gas, rent, and materials.

The Business Initiative Leading Development (BUILD) and the USAID-funded Feed the Future Bangladesh Trade Activity jointly launched the “5th Business Confidence Survey Report 2022” Sunday at a hotel in Dhaka.

The survey was conducted between September and November 2022, covering 567 business entities to analyse the existing business condition in the last six months (March 2022 – August 2022) and anticipate turning points in the economic activities for the next six months (December 2022 – June 2023) to enable businesses to prepare and plan accordingly to mitigate risks.

Industries Minister Nurul Majid Mahmud Humayun said the 5th Business Confidence Survey is significant as it has applied the methodology of harmonized business confidence survey recommended by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development Statistics Directorate.

“We are pleased to have learned that the overall Business Confidence Index (BCI), conducted by BUILD, gave an optimistic perception of business conditions despite the challenges Bangladesh is currently facing due to the global economic turmoil,” he said.

“The other scores in the survey show some visible recoveries of business activities and emerging business confidence. However, the cost confidence plummeted to as low as 22.4 over the next six months and the government must take this into serious consideration in fiscal and monetary measures.”

BUILD CEO Ferdaus Ara Begum said the upward movement in the BCI was driven by improvement in the sentiments for six out of seven components of the BCI, namely, employment, the volume of order or demand for service, business activity, selling price and investment.

Out of the seven components, only the overall business cost index is negative giving a pessimistic perception. The diffusion index in this study ranges from 0 to 100 with a midpoint of 50 where less than 50 means contraction or less optimism and more than 50 means expansion or optimism.

The overall business cost index stood at 35.8 over the last six months (March 2022 – August 2022) and is expected to reach 22.4 over the next six months (December 2022 – June 2023). Around 72 percent of business entities in this survey reported that the overall business cost will increase over the next six months.

Martin Holtmann, country manager of the International Finance Corporation for Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal, said: “The Business Confidence survey is the summary indicators of how the businesses feel. It is an individual measurement of the overall business condition of Bangladesh.”

“The BCS is a couple of early morning signs. We hope that these signs will help businesses make decisions. However, need to be careful about the status quo bias. We need to look at the trends. We need to give voice to the voiceless; in this case, they are CMSMEs, especially women entrepreneurs. It is well recognized that Bangladesh is doing good in every indicator.”

Sameer Sattar, president of the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said an optimistic view emerges from the Business Confidence Survey 2022-23. “This survey found that our business community is showing confidence and resilience. One of the major recommendations the government needs to consider is that the cost of doing business needs to be minimized.”

“CMSMEs are suffering from multiple issues. Getting finance is one of the challenges for CMSMEs. We would recommend removing the medium from the CMSME category. One thought is that this survey can be more inclusive. More companies and sectors are needed to be included to make the survey more inclusive,” he added.


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