COVID-19 Containment Measures Disrupt Businesses, but More Remain Optimistic about Future

Business Climate Index (BCI) improved by three index points to 58 but remained below the full potential. The marginal improvement is attributed to improved demand for goods, access to regional markets and international markets, and improvements in internal business operations. The progress is also linked to the reopening of the economy in July 2021 after the relaxation of some COVID 19 related restrictions. The easing of movement restrictions enabled inter-district travel and weekly agriculture markets. Disaggregated results suggest improved perceptions in the agriculture and manufacturing sector; but a slight decline in the services sector. Businesses are still faced with persisting challenges, including insufficient demand, poor transport infrastructure, corruption and bribery, macroeconomic factors, and electricity availability. The future outlook for the next quarter (October-December 2021) is promising. An expected index of 108 is driven by improvement in conditions for doing business in both the manufacturing and services sectors. This expected performance is due to a general improvement in all indices, especially the anticipation of a relatively large increase in demand.