Bosses ‘very confident’ of virus recovery

BUSINESS leaders in the region are “very confident” about returning back to work amid the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a new survey.

The survey, compiled by global accounting and consulting firm PwC, shows that 71 per cent of chief financial officers in the Middle East believe they are able to meet safety expectations of customers and provide a safe working environment for their employees.

The third Middle East Covid-19 Chief Financial Officers (CFO) Pulse Survey was released yesterday and outlines the business and economic impacts as finance executives react to the outbreak.

Details of the report were discussed by PwC Middle East strategy and markets leader Stephen Anderson during a webinar.

Mr Anderson said the survey also showed that 76pc of Middle East CFOs plan to implement workplace measures such as wearing masks and testing.

“Only a third of the Middle East CFOs plan to make remote working a permanent option,” he said.

“We now see that 33pc are more likely to reduce their real-estate footprint through the partial opening of offices or retail locations.”

A total of 70 finance leaders, including four from Bahrain, took part in the survey that was conducted between May 4 and May 6.

Mr Anderson said Covid-19 economic shocks continued to be felt in the Middle East, with 66pc of CFOs expecting the recovery timeline to return to “business as usual” taking three months or more.



“This will have an impact on the revenue and profits with 70pc expecting to see a decrease of 10pc or more,” he said.

He also highlighted efforts undertaken by Bahrain such as paying salaries of Bahrainis in the private sector for three months.

The study also reveals that the region is one of the most likely, globally, to witness changes in staffing including layoffs, with 40pc predicted in Middle East compared with the 29pc globally.

Also speaking at the webinar yesterday was Strategy & public sector leader, Middle East, Hilal Halaoui, who spoke about the impact on GCC labour market.

Mr Halaoui said the International Labour Organisation had earlier warned of between five million to 25m job losses globally, with their latest estimate at the end of last month hitting 300m worldwide.


An infographic highlighting challenges in the GCC labour market



“The region heavily relies on foreign workers and many have lost their jobs,” said Mr Halaoui.

“However, businesses are adjusting working hours for less wages and governments are providing social protection programmes.”

He also highlighted that the GCC states could face a high youth unemployment rate estimated at 15pc and low female participation in the workforce, which he said is less than 30pc.

“There is a high share of low skilled expatriates in the private sector which is between 40pc and 70pc,” he added.

“We are seeing now a rush of expats going back home due to the repatriation flights.”

Also speaking at the event was PwC Middle East chief economist Richard Boxshall.




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