OPTIMISM among Philippine senior business executives soared to 98% in the first quarter, making the country’s private sector leaders among the world’s most confident about economic prospects in the next 12 months.

Released on Tuesday, the Grant Thornton International Business Report showed a big jump in the country’s optimism, from 80% and 56% in 2016’s fourth and first quarters, respectively.

It was the Philippines’ best showing, so far, since at least the fourth quarter of 2010.

The country’s business leaders are second only to their peers in Indonesia, which recorded 100% during the review period.

“We’ve witnessed a split between the developed and emerging Asia-Pacific regions for some time now, so it’s encouraging to see the region’s developed economies experience a positive swing in the pendulum,” Marivic C. Españo, chairman and chief executive of P&A Grant Thornton, said in a statement.

The survey, conducted among 2,400 chief executive officers, managing directors, chairmen and other senior executives across industries in 36 economies last January-February, showed optimism at a record 49% globally, and improving to 39% from 30% in 2016’s fourth quarter in Asia Pacific, and to 57% from 39% in Southeast Asia. It asked respondents on expectations in 20 indicators, including revenue, selling prices, exports, employment, profitability, investment in new buildings, plant and machinery, research and development, shortage of finance, regulations, red tape, and economic uncertainty.

In the Philippines, expectations of bigger revenues improved to a net 76% (respondents expecting an increase less those expecting a decrease) from 58% and 66% in 2016’s fourth and first quarters, respectively, ranking third behind Malta (96%) and India (83%).

Expectations of improved profitability also rose to 84% in the first quarter of 2017 from 72% and 70% in 2016’s fourth and first quarters, respectively. In this indicator, the Philippines was second only to Malta (86%).

Expectations to hire more people, however, slipped to 52% last quarter from 54% in 2016’s fourth quarter, though it was better than the 42% in last year’s first three months. Here, the Philippines ranked fourth behind Georgia (71%), Indonesia (58%) and India (56%). -- V. V. Saulon




As published in Business World, dated on 12 April 2017