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CEOs Optimistic Economy Will Bounce Back in 3 Years, Says PwC Survey

Meanwhile, 90 percent are confident about revenue growth within the next three years.
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“2020 is a year we will never forget,” said PricewaterhouseCoopers Philippines.

Top Story: The History of El Deposito, the Biggest Spanish Artifact in the Philippines

It’s no secret the pandemic has derailed countless businesses, some closing their doors forever. The impact of COVID-19 is unprecedented, which is why PwC Philippines recently conducted a survey with 161 of the country’s CEOs from businesses of all sizes to see how the business sector is faring.

The overall atmosphere is cautious but optimistic, with 59 percent of CEOs confident that revenues will grow within the next 12 months. Meanwhile, 90 percent are confident about revenue growth within the next three years.

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On the Decisions of the Government

Keeping a pulse on the country’s enterprises, PwC found that even if the country is now in recession as a result of the pandemic, 83 percent believe the economy will recover within one to two years. Around 65 percent also tentatively predict the GDP growth in 2021 will be limited to one to four percent.

“According to most CEOs, infrastructure development, government spending, and domestic consumption will be the main key growth drivers of the country’s economy in the next 12 months,” said PwC.

Based on the firm’s survey, the CEOs believe that for businesses to recover, the government must “provide industry-specific measures that will help restore confidence,” “introduce more tax incentives,” and “create a strong recovery plan for each sector.”

These were the more popular options for the government to take, but some CEOs also wish for financial aid and grants, wage subsidies, and revisiting foreign equity limitations.

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While many want the business sector to recover, the CEOs agree the government must focus on the healthcare system, infrastructure, and agriculture and food security.

On the New Normal: Work-From-Home

Only 50 percent of the 161 CEOS said COVID-19 created a significant impact on their business operations, but almost all said their post-pandemic work experience will be much different from life pre-pandemic.

Around 60 percent plan to implement remote work post-lockdown, while 55 percent plan to make remote work permanent for some. When the pandemic broke out, 87 percent were prepared for work-from-home policies and trusted their existing cultures to allow the new WFH system to prosper.

The pandemic has changed the work landscape so much the real estate industry may never be the same as 40 percent of CEOs see a potential reduction in office space in the next 12 months.

On Where They’re Spending Their Money

With everyone working from home, software has become essential to ensuring efficiency. This is why 80 percent of CEOs plan to invest in digital tools, of which 88 percent will allocate up to 20 percent of revenues to invest in technology and digital transformations.

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Approximately 67 percent plan to invest in data platforms, 54 percent in contactless payment methods, 40 percent in artificial intelligence, and 19 percent in robotics. These are the emerging technologies  the CEOs believe will help them adapt to the new realities during and after COVID-19.

Around 57 percent will implement more digital transformations, while 54 percent will accelerate automation in business processes. And overall, the majority will focus on improving products and services, strategic partnership and collaborations, and the workforce when lockdown is over.

For now, CEOs are focusing on cost containment, sustainable practices, and upskilling human resources. However, around half will defer or cancel planned capital investments as a result of COVID-19.

But almost all the CEOs, at 91 percent, plan to invest in environmentally sensitive practices within the next two years, a nod to the lessons we’ve all learned in the face of an unpredictable phenomenon.  

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Anri Ichimura
Staff Writer, Esquire Philippines
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