Businessmen less keen on supporting candidates - SWS survey

By Maria Althea Teves, Newsbreak

Posted at Feb 19 2010 02:33 PM | Updated as of Feb 20 2010 03:09 AM

MANILA, Philippines - There are less business contributors in the upcoming elections than the last presidential race. Businessmen are also less keen in donating to multiple candidates. These are findings based on the Social Weather Stations (SWS) 2009 Surveys of Enterprises on Corruption presented at the Asian Institute of Management, Friday.

“There are fewer business contributors now than in the 2004 elections,” said SWS President Mahar Mangahas.

When asked the question, “For the 2010 election campaign, do you think that the typical company in your sector of business will donate,” 68% answered that they will not.

In the 2004 elections, only 54% said that they will not be donors.

Some 550 business managers from the National Capital Region, Davao, Cagayan de Oro, Cavite Laguna and Batangas were respondents in the survey which was conducted from November 3 to December 5, 2009. Of that number, 184 are from large business corporations. The rest are managers of small-medium scale businesses. The survey has margin of error of +/- 4%.

The survey was commissioned by the Asia Foundation.

Donating to only one candidate

Of the business managers who answered the survey, 14% said that they would only donate to one candidate in a single position, this figure is up from up from 12% in 2004.

The number of businesses likely to support more than one candidate in a single position is less now at 17% from 33% in 2004.

Mangahas noted that the proportion of those donating to multiple candidates to a single candidate is noticeably more narrow now than before.

Amount of financial donations

Forty four percent of the business managers said that they will be donating less than P500,000 to candidates. In 2004, this figure was only 28%.

However, 12% of businesses are giving more than a million pesos in election campaign donations, which is actually a percent higher than in the 2004 survey (11 %).

The question asked was: “How much do you think will a typical company in your sector of business be donating in cash or in kind for political campaigns for the 2010 election?”

Six percent of respondents to the 2009 survey said that businesses in their sector give around P500 to 999,000 while 19% said that they will be donating from P100 to 499,000 and 15% said they are donating from P50,000 to 99,000.

Reasons for donating

The enterprise leaders were also asked why they would support a particular candidate.
To this question, 68% answered that “The company believes in a candidate's platform."

Fifty percent said they are giving financial support because the company might need help from that candidate in some future problems.

Of the respondents, 43% said that they would be supporting the candidate because he is poor but deserving while 32% said that the candidate will probably give the company business in the future.

Some of the respondents (22%) said that this is their way of thanking a candidate for favors received by the manager in the past.

Thirteen percent said that the candidate might harbor ill will to companies that did not help fund this campaign.

Less donations does not mean less spending

Executive Vice President of the Ayala Foundation Guillermo Luz said that less donations in the upcoming elections does not equate to less spending.

A reason less business donations, not captured in the survey, in the 2010 polls is the presence of more self-funded candidates.

“The irony is less giving does not result in less spending,” he said. “There is more political spending and advertising,” he added.

“They are using their own money, unabashedly, to run... Even billions,” Luz said eliciting laughter from the audience.

From October to December 2009, it was reported that Nacionalista Party standard-bearer Manuel Villar spent P543-million in political ads, according to an AGB Nielsen Media Research report. AGB Neilsen is research group tracking political ads shown in media.

Luz said that another factor is that “the economy is lot tougher, so I think there is less money in political contributions.”

He also cited findings from the survey that business leaders are now more principled than before.
Luz said that people should not equate a candidate who funded his own campaign as clean.

The common misconception is that “those who have a lot borrowed will be seeking to get their money back,” he said. But Luz warned that those who spent their own money would most likely do the same thing.

Top concerns

SWS also asked the general public to respond to their surveys and compared their answers to the responses of business managers.

Both groups chose fighting corruption and job creation as the top 2 concerns.

This was the answer of 75% and 53% of the business managers, respectively. Sixty-eight percent and 58% of the general public also found both issues important.

But what differed was the how both parties looked at how a presidential candidate will promote a good business environment.

Forty-two percent of the business managers answered that this is one of the reasons for choosing a candidate. In contrast, only 7% of the general public found this important. - Maria Althea Teves, Newsbreak