Filipino business leaders 4th ¿most optimistic¿ in world

Manila (Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN) - The Philippines has the fourth ¿most optimistic¿ community of business leaders in the world as strides taken in easing the cost of doing business likely negated other concerns like the tension between the Executive and Judicial branches of government.

This is based on the latest Grant Thornton International Business Report (IBR) for the first quarter of 2012, which ranked the Philippines high in its optimism league table, behind Peru, Brazil and the United Arab Emirates.

Based on the survey results released on Tuesday by Grant Thornton¿s local audit, tax and advisory firm Punongbayan & Araullo (P&A), 82 per cent of Filipino respondents were upbeat about the next 12 months.

Peru, Brazil and the UAE had a confidence index of 90 per cent, 86 per cent and 84 per cent, respectively.

Following the Philippines in the global ranking of territories with optimistic business leaders were: Georgia (78 per cent), India (74 per cent), Chile (68 per cent), Germany (64 per cent) and Mexico (62 per cent).

The Philippines ranked higher than the likes of the United States (46 per cent), China (23 per cent), Thailand (8 per cent) and Singapore (2 per cent).

Greece and Japan have more pessimists than optimists as their respective indices for the period stood at -52 per cent and -53 per cent, respectively.

"The Philippines has done a good job of staying resilient despite the economic volatility around the world," P&A managing partner Marivic Espa?o said in a press statement. ¿Now that the global mood has also picked up, particularly among more mature economies, and the government seems determined to make up for its underspending last year, I think we¿re on track to maintaining this upbeat outlook."

The IBR said this rosy outlook belied the respondents¿ expectations when it came to specific economic indicators.

Asked about their revenue prospects, only 48 per cent of Filipino business leaders expected an improvement, down 12 percentage points from last quarter.

The respondents also mostly doubted their ability to raise prices as a balance of 14 per cent expected to increase their selling prices, sharply lower than the 46 per cent level in the previous quarter¿s survey.

Respondents were also asked about roadblocks to their business growth. Regulations and red tape, which in the past had consistently emerged as the top obstacle for Filipino business leaders, have become less of a hindrance this quarter: 22 per cent of local respondents reported it as a business constraint, compared to 32 per cent last quarter, the report said.

"Bureaucracy has long been a cause for concern for businesses in the Philippines. So while it¿s good to note that fewer respondents are hampered by it, it bears to mention that it still emerged as the top constraint, along with information and telecommunications infrastructure," Espa?o pointed out.

"Perhaps some business leaders are starting to feel the effects of the government¿s drive to improve the ease of doing business in the country. The Department of Trade and Industry¿s Philippine Business Registration workstation is a good start. But we¿ll see what other concerned government agencies will contribute to this effort," added Espa?o.

One thing that isn¿t affecting local businesses is the ongoing tension between the Executive and Judiciary branches of the government.

Asked if the strained relations between the two has any impact on their business, 78 per cent of respondents said no; 20 per cent acknowledged it was affecting their business, while 2 per cent were unsure.

The IBR, which began as an annual survey of business sentiment, started doing quarterly polls of economic confidence during the last quarter of 2010.

Since then, confidence in the Philippines has been fluctuating, but has consistently outpaced optimism globally and in the Southeast Asian region.

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