Government and public services

CEOs are most concerned about economic uncertainty and fiscal deficits

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of government and public sector CEOs are somewhat or extremely concerned that fiscal deficits have risen.

Government and the global CEO: A new contract between business and the state

Each year, PwC’s Annual Global CEO survey gives business leaders, governments and the world’s business community a unique insight into the vision and decisions of the global CEO. As in past years, we have extended and deepened the research for PwC’s 16th Annual Global CEO Survey by including a selection of interviews with senior decision-makers in governmental organisations across the world.

So, what are we exploring this year? Change and complexity are a constant challenge. Disruptive events, both ‘black’ and ‘grey’ swan, seem to be happening faster than ever and are changing the nature of risk which needs to be managed, in both the public and private sectors.

This report which will be released next month sets out how businesses are adapting their approaches in these uncertain times, including their priorities for government, and discusses in turn how governments can:

  • deal with uncertainty and create the conditions for good growth and jobs;
  • build resilience by becoming more agile; and
  • shift the mindset and engagement of public sector and business leaders from co-existence to mutual collaboration.

Deal with uncertainty
Uncertainty in the global economy continues to influence business confidence and investment. Last year, four out of five CEOs were concerned about uncertain or volatile economic growth and two thirds of CEOs were concerned about fiscal deficits, including countries not undertaking major austerity measures. This year, concerns about uncertain or volatile economic growth have stayed at the same high level, but concerns about fiscal deficits have risen further, with 71% of CEOs surveyed somewhat or extremely concerned.

Build resilience
Uncertainty is not only a challenge for business, but also for public sector leaders. Public sector CEOs are focusing on three actions to cope with uncertainty and create more resilient organisations: targeting pockets of opportunity; improving operational effectiveness; and forging a new relationship with their stakeholders, particularly their customers. Indeed, the most confident CEOs in our Survey are those adapting to change fastest and taking advantage of the opportunities to innovate and transform operating models.

Engage with business
In light of growing government involvement in private sector activities, either through ownership or regulation, CEOs are changing their views on the role and influence of government in the key areas that impact on business. Government and regulators are a key stakeholder: 85% of CEOs stated that government and regulators have some or a significant influence on their business - only 14% say that they have little or no influence; and 67% of CEOs say that they are making some or major changes to strengthen their engagement with government and regulators.

Agenda for action for business and government
Government and public sector leaders across the world have to deal with enduring challenges of global uncertainty and austerity. And all government and public sector leaders are facing the challenge of balancing between an internal focus on efficiency and effectiveness and an external focus on helping business to create the wealth and jobs that societies need to prosper.

By creating a new way of working – a new contract between business and government – we believe we should be optimistic that together we can make a real difference to the future of our society.

These interviews contain the opinions and views of the CEOs interviewed, and do not necessarily represent the opinions and views of PwC.


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