Chief executives in India are optimistic about the prospects for a stronger economy in the coming year despite the raging third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a survey by professional services firm PwC.

The report titled, PwC’s 25th Annual Global CEO Survey, says that 99% of CEOs in India believe India’s economic growth will improve over the next 12 months, with 94% of chief executives in the country being optimistic about global economic growth improving over the next 12 months, as against 77% of global CEOs.

The survey polled 4,446 CEOs in 89 countries between October and November 2021. Its India highlights include insights from 77 CEOs.

“While Omicron has cast a shadow and CEOs are focused on the health and safety of their employees at the moment, CEO confidence and optimism over the past one year is testimony to the resilience of Indian companies,” says Sanjeev Krishan, chairman at PwC in India. “The vigour with which most Indian business leaders took the challenges brought in by the pandemic head on, coupled with the will to emerge stronger in the face of adversity, has led to sustained growth for businesses in India.”

When it comes to the revenue prospects of their own companies, 98% of CEOs are confident about growth in the next 12 months, the report said. “Perhaps owing to the futuristic groundwork done during the difficult times, 97% of India CEOs are confident about their own company’s prospects for revenue growth not only in the near term but also over the next three years,” says Krishan.

Top executives, however, continue to remain cautious about threats. About 89% of India CEOs are concerned about health risks, 9% higher than their global counterparts, indicating that business leaders would like to exercise caution when it comes to making early investments despite vaccination drives. Last year, 70% of CEOs in India viewed the pandemic as a top threat to growth.

On cyber risks, this year 15% of CEOs in India are apprehensive about cyber threats hindering their company’s ability to raise capital. They also agree that cyber risks could cause severe revenue disruptions, with 64% of respondents fearing a breach could hinder sales of products or services. Besides business disruptions, 47% of chief executives believe cyber threats could impede their ability to develop products and services.

“After a challenging year, business leaders are under pressure to deliver top-line results. It will require them to take proactive steps to mitigate current and future risks – be they around technology, cyber security, talent or health,” says Krishan. “Focusing on long-term challenges and issues around climate change and social inequality also becomes extremely crucial given the highly uncertain, volatile environment we are in and will define what sort of world we live in and hand down to the next generation.”

The report further stated that 81% and 75% of chief executives in the country, as against 71% and 62% of global CEOs, include customer satisfaction and employee engagement metrics respectively in their company’s long-term corporate strategy. And 78% of CEOs in India, as against 54% globally, include automation and digitisation goals in their company’s long-term corporate strategy.

The survey pointed out that of all the Indian companies that participated in the survey, 27% already have a net-zero commitment (22% globally) in place, 40% are in the process of developing and articulating their commitments (29% globally), and only 30% have neither made nor are in the process of making any net-zero commitment (globally 44%).

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