Obstacles to recovery

By Joshua Corcuera

Last September 12, PwC Philippines, the oldest of the Big Four accounting firms in the country, released the PwC MAP 2022 CEO Survey. The findings were comprehensive, wide-ranging, and offered insights as to what factors could prevent our country from recovering.

Based on the survey, several factors could delay our country’s economic recovery from corruption to rising government debt. About two-thirds of survey respondents said that corruption, which is the top factor of the list, may delay economic rebound. Following corruption was lower investments, both domestic and foreign, at 38% while 3 out of 10 said political uncertainty may likewise hinder recovery. Unsurprisingly, uncontrolled inflation made it to the list at 29%, followed by rising oil prices at 28%, and lower education quality at sixth with 27%.

With this in mind, it is important for authorities to be transparent in the way they exercise their powers. Through transparency, most people would have trust in its government and social order can be maintained. Furthermore, fighting corruption is a national imperative to ensure that our taxes go to where they must go: accessible hospitals, schools that have a conducive environment for learning, reliable roads and railways, and so on.

From the point of view of an ordinary person, the survey showed that economic recovery is not easy. For instance, inflation is a huge concern and meeting daily needs is a real problem for many Filipinos. Nevertheless, the survey provided readers what issues should the-powers-that-be prioritize addressing, so that society as a whole can get back on track as far as the economy is concerned.

Other threats mentioned in the survey were rising government debt (17%), higher interest rates (14%), Russian-Ukraine conflict (13%), threats of new variants (8%), delayed government fund releases (8%), and lack of fiscal support for industries that were hardest-hit by the pandemic (6%). Despite the threats mentioned, however, an enormous 87% of CEOs are confident that their company would record revenue growth in the coming year, while a slim majority, 52% to be precise, believe that our country’s economy will take at least two years to fully recover.

Aside from factors delaying the Philippines’ economic recovery, the survey also touched on the continuing impact of COVID-19 on businesses, sustainability practices, carbon-neutral commitment of enterprises, and the status of recovery of businesses. Speaking of which, 35% of respondents said they have not yet recovered while 63% have responded on the contrary.

As we welcomed the ‘ber’ months this 2022 a few weeks ago, it is evident that we are returning back to normal. Most students are now reporting to school every week, both in basic education and in higher education. More importantly, a vast majority of Filipinos are now fully vaccinated. And, fortunately, we have not yet recorded a COVID-19 surge in the past several months, though we should remain vigilant and not be complacent.

Yet, the results of the survey impart a reminder to its readers: our fight towards inclusive growth and economic development is merely starting and it does not end together with the pandemic. We face a lot of problems, such as that inflation is unusually high, the exchange rate of the peso against the dollar is at an all-time low, and there exists a shortage of several products at present. We still have a long way to go and we must be fully aware of the roadblocks that lie ahead.

The author is a fourth-year accountancy student who is currently an audit and assurance intern for one of the Big Four accounting firms in the country. The opinions expressed by the author are personal and do not necessarily represent the views of his affiliations.