Westpac Survey Indicates Positive 2024 Business Growth Outlook for PNG

By: PNG Business News April 02, 2024

This year’s Business Conditions Index indicates a positive path for growth, as revealed in the 2024 CEO Survey.

Westpac Bank PNG Ltd Senior Economist Justin Smirk interpreted the results of the survey during the company’s recent sponsored breakfast at Stanley Hotel-Port Moresby on 20th March.

The information offered clear insight into experiences in past years, as well as indications of present-year expectations and profits for businesses in PNG.

Considering a challenging 2023, characterized by low performance, the outlook for 2024 shows resilience and adaptability within the business sector, Smirk said.

Despite a temporary dip in profit forecasts below the long-term average, as graph 1.1 illustrates that profits exceeded expectation between 2021 and 2023, indicating a rapid surge above average to 80%.

Businesses have shown remarkable stability in their recruitment and investment efforts in 2024. Graph 1.2 depicts an ease in profit expectations above the 50% average.

This steadfast commitment to growth and development has supported the overall Business Condition Index for 2024, maintaining a positive movement above average, although tempered compared to previous years, the Westpac poll showed.

The survey revealed that employment expectations and non-mineral employment also remain above average, indicating positive employment growth.

Particularly noteworthy was the growth in non-minerals employment, indicating a slight increase from 50% to 65% variation between June 2022 and June 2023.

The poll also revealed some factors holding back businesses in PNG, such as a shortage of expertise skills, foreign exchange affecting economy, security, law and order issues, unreliable utilities, lack of government capacity and regulatory uncertainty.

Addressing these issues could have a significant positive impact on the country’s economy, Westpac said.

Smirk also provided a detailed analysis of the economic indicators, outlining both challenges and potential solutions for achieving sustainable growth.

The opportunities for PNG remain in place, as he said that major resources projects such as mining, oil and gas, renewable energy, agriculture, forestry, water management and infrastructure development continue to present significant opportunities for the nation.

“These are a just few examples, and each project can involve significant investments, technology, recruitment opportunities and result in increased profits,” Smirk said.

These approaches underscore the business sector’s ability to deal with uncertainties and capitalize on emerging opportunities, fostering a promising business landscape for sustained progress, he added.

Westpac Chief Executive Officer Brett Hooker also spoke at the event, saying: “We are proud to be sharing our expertise in finance and banking with local business leaders.”

“The 2024 Business Expectations Index through this survey is an important indicator of what business leaders are thinking and how they want to operate their businesses into the future.”

“As the first bank in Papua New Guinea, we’ve seen a lot of changes, but the Westpac of today has the same purpose as when we opened the first branch in Port Moresby in 1910 -- that is to support economic growth that helps people and businesses across PNG to thrive," said Mr Hooker.

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