South Africa’s business confidence index is falling

The Rand Merchant Bank / Bureau of Economic Research (RMB / BER) Business Confidence Index (BCI) fell from 50 in the second quarter of 2021 to 43 in the third quarter due to COVID-19 and the resulting lockdown and unrest, said Rand Merchant Bank ( RMB) Wednesday.

The RMB surveyed 1,300 construction, manufacturing, retail, wholesale and automotive business people between August 11th and 30th and found that the index was back in negative territory, with the number of respondents agreeing with the prevailing business conditions dissatisfied was higher than those who did so were satisfied.

The RMB said the trust had been killed by the third wave of COVID-19, the resulting stricter lockdown restrictions, and the unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and parts of Gauteng.

In addition, respondents had to grapple with transport disruptions, first due to the civil unrest and later due to the cyberattack and the damage it caused to the Durban port’s operating system, input bottlenecks and inadequate final stocks related to supply chain disruptions in general, as well as above average high levels of employee absenteeism due to COVID infections and taxi violence in the Cape Metro.

The bank said the BCI is likely to improve in the next quarter.

RMB chief economist Ettiene Le Roux said the civil servants’ collective bargaining agreements and government aid packages after the unrest were positive steps.

The continuing boom in exports of minerals and the government’s decision to allow private actors to generate electricity can also be viewed positively in the third quarter.

If the government implements its plan for economic reconstruction and recovery, it would help the country, Le Roux said. “We trust this will happen sooner rather than later.”

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