Cautious optimism on economic front ahead of presidential poll – Survey

November, 1, 2019

According to the latest monthly LMD-Nielsen Business Confidence index (BCI) survey a third of those consulted by Nielsen, for LMD’s publisher Media Services anticipates that the economy will improve over the next 12 months whereas 38% expect economic condition to worsen.

“Due to the upcoming elections, we believe that the economy will continue to remain the same and not demonstrate any major improvements or downturns,” says a member of the business community.

Another respondent laments: “High taxes coupled with high interest rates on loans make it difficult for any business to be profitable and survive.”

Meanwhile, both short and long-term sentiment in regard to biz prospects registered an uptick compared on September, with 36 and 45 percent respectively anticipating an improvement.

According to a corporate executive, the fact that Sri Lanka will have a new president on 17 November raises hope that a positive environment will ensue and businesses will grow: “ The future seems promising for businesses and the country.”

“As the holiday season approaches, we hope that this would have a positive impact on business,” another survey respondent remarks.

In contrast, a far from optimistic businessperson notes that “there are no concrete policies to develop businesses introduced by any government; they are only concerned with winning elections.”

Meanwhile, sentiment surrounding investment has not recovered with approximately 8 in 10 respondents stating that this is not a good time to invest in the country.

To this end, a corporate representative observes: “Investors do not want to make any major investments because of the upcoming election and therefore, condition will for the most part remain the same.”

Turning to corporate plans for the workforce, the October BCI survey reveals that 18% (verses 11% in September) will look to increase employee numbers in the next six months while the majority (75%) envisage their staff count to remain as it is.