Filipino business owners are more upbeat about their prospects over the next 12 months as the economy began to adapt to the new economic landscape of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the central bank.
In a press briefing on Thursday, officials of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said the outlook on the country’s economy over the course of 2021 was more upbeat in its latest Business Expectations Survey conducted between February and March, but before the latest lockdown was imposed due to the recent spike in COVID-19 cases in the greater Metro Manila area.
In this survey, the confidence index of business owners increased to 60.5 percent from the fourth quarter 2020 survey result of 57.7 percent.
This was mainly due to the easing of quarantine restrictions and reopening of businesses, observations that people were adapting to the “new normal,” increase in volume of sales and orders, the rollout of vaccine for COVID-19, and the development of new business or marketing strategies.
“Notably, the next 12 months’ confidence index is the highest index recorded since the start of the 12-month outlook in the third quarter of 2019,” the central bank said.
Favorable sentiment prevails
Respondents also cited expectations of higher demand for electricity and construction activities during summer for their more buoyant views for the second quarter.
Favorable sentiment prevailed across the different types of trading firms—exporters, importers, dual-activity firms and domestic-oriented firms—but at varying degrees. Importers, dual-activity businesses and domestic-oriented respondent firms were more confident on the business environment for the first quarter of 2021, while exporters were less optimistic.
For the second quarter of 2021, the different types of respondent trading firms indicated stronger optimism as the confidence index for the said period registered higher levels than the fourth quarter 2020 survey results, except for the domestic-oriented firms, whose outlook was broadly steady.
Meanwhile, the outlook of importers and dual-activity respondent firms was more favorable for the next 12 months. However, the outlook of the exporters and domestic-oriented respondent firms was less upbeat for this same period.
The latest Business Expectations Survey was conducted from Feb. 4 to Mar. 12. There were 1,512 firms surveyed nationwide. Samples were drawn from the top 7,000 corporations ranked based on total assets in 2016 from the Bureau van Dijk database, consisting of 585 companies in Metro Manila and 927 firms in the provinces, covering all 16 regions nationwide.
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