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The perception of the business environment – FIC Business Sentiment Index, autumn edition

Every twice per year in the past 7 years, FIC makes public the Business Sentiment Index (BSI) results for September 2021 which remain optimistic, like the previous iteration from March 2021. BSI captures an overall strong positive sentiment, especially for future business growth. According to 80% of the respondents, businesses continue to expect growth for their revenues and for their activity on the domestic market. For the export market, almost half of the respondents (46.7%) consider that the growth will remain substantially the same, a percentage similar with the ones observed prior the pandemic.

From an investment perspective, we notice that companies' confidence in business opportunities is maintained, because for the next 12 months more than 53% of companies have investment plans. These results remain at high levels for BSI, marking a new peak.

The capital investments planned for next year are linked to the companies' workforce plans: 60% of companies are looking to hire staff next year and only 11% will put them on hold. Intentions for workforce plans for the next 12 months represent a new peak since the launch of BSI. But while companies are looking for human resources, unfortunately the perception of the availability of adequate staff remains reserved, as only 39% of respondents believe that the workforce is competitive, a level similar to the results before the pandemic.

When asked about the 4th wave of the pandemic, 60% of companies do not expect massive effects on their activities, while 38% will be moderately affected. Employees will continue to work from home, 38% of companies estimate that between a quarter and a half of their employees will continue to work from home, while 29% expect more than half of employees to continue similarly.

These responses represent a signal that companies have taken all sanitary measures in preparing for this scenario and companies are ready to face this situation.

The bad news remains constant when looking at infrastructure, transparency and policy coherence, reducing bureaucracy and regulatory burden. Since 2016 these are, perceived as very weak and uncompetitive by most respondents.

At the same time, FIC members consider that Romania has a very good opportunity to use the funding available for reform and resilience programs and find the most adequate solutions to address these issues by implementing PNRR. Although the political situation in the last month has not responded to the need for predictability of the business environment, the approval of PNRR is an important moment for this country project that we are ready to support in the implementation phase.

The full results of the FIC Business Sentiment Index indicator, September 2021 edition, can be viewed here.