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South Africa’s business confidence index down

JOHANNESBURG, Sept. 8 (Xinhua) — 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 because of COVID-19 and resultant lockdown and unrest, said the Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) Wednesday.

The RMB interviewed 1,300 business people from the building, manufacturing, retail, wholesale and motor trade sectors between Aug. 11-30 and found that the index was back in net negative terrain, where the number of respondents unsatisfied with prevailing business conditions outnumbered those that are satisfied.

The RMB said confidence was killed by the COVID-19 third wave, the resultant stricter lockdown restrictions, as well as the unrest in KwaZulu-Natal and parts of Gauteng. Also, respondents had to deal with transport disruptions, first arising because of the unrest, and later because of the cyber-attack and the damage it caused to Durban port’s operational system, shortages of inputs and insufficient final stocks related to supply chain interruptions more broadly, as well as higher than usual worker absenteeism due to the 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 Ettienne Le Roux said the civil servants wage settlements and government relief packages after unrest are positive moves. The ongoing mineral export boom and government decision to allow private players to generate electricity are also positives experienced in the third quarter.

If the government implements its Economic Reconstruction and Recovery plan, it would help the country, Le Roux said. “We trust this will happen sooner rather than later.”

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