MOST European investors in the Philippines expressed dissatisfaction about the extent of the government’s economic stimulus measures, the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP), citing the results of an internal survey.
Almost 75% of 203 businesses surveyed said the stimulus measures are insufficient. The respondents include 159 with European equity and 44 importing or exporting from Europe.
More than half of the companies said that the pandemic and the control measures had a “high impact” on their business, especially due to restrictions on travel, reduced demand for goods and services, and challenging cash flow.
The businesses are asking for government support for internet connectivity and infrastructure, ease of doing business, and tax breaks.
“We have seen some improvements (in ease of doing business), but these lockdowns do not help and things are going slow,” ECCP President Nabil Francis said in an online event Thursday.
The pandemic has delayed investment, with 29% of respondents saying that they have put additional investment commitments on hold. Another 28.2% said they are delaying investment decisions or the implementation of such decisions.
Many of the businesses said that health and safety concerns over the pandemic have restricted their investment decisions in the Philippines, and cited lack of clarity on national and local government policies and the higher cost of operations.
Mr. Francis said that it is important to restore consumer confidence.
“Until this fear factor disappears, until we are happy to go back to the malls, happy to fly to different regions, to visit the country, things will not recover. If we don’t restore consumer confidence, if we don’t restart spending, all the actions that we are taking are just like a patch,” he said.
Top recommendations from the respondents to improve the country’s positioning as an investment destination include simplifying doing business, hastening infrastructure development, and controlling the spread of the pandemic.
In terms of trade activity, 64% said they saw reduced or canceled orders while 27.3% said the pandemic has not affected their trade operations.
The survey was conducted between May 22 to July 22. — Jenina P. Ibañez