The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has left its growth projection for the South unchanged at 0.1%, but adjusted 2017 down a notch, from 1.1% to 0.8%. This, they say, on ongoing joblessness and continued economic and political uncertainty. In the meantime, corporate South Africa is sitting on a big pile of cash – if you call R1.3trillion big – which it is perhaps understandably leery of spending. Only 19% of South Africa’s GDP is made up of investment spending: compare this to China, which invests 40%. Why South African businesses hold onto their cash is complex: those who invest overseas, for example, do so under circumstances of some risk, where it is advisable to keep some readies on hand for a bailout. One thing is certain: free up some of the cash, and the economy must grow. But with business confidence adrift at just 90.3 (worse than it sounds) on the richly-acronymed South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci) Business Confidence Index (BCI), this is unlikely to happen anytime soon.
Comment: Time, surely, for a National Economic Assembly, convened perhaps by a greyer Roelf Meyer and a portlier Cyril Ramaphosa?