Business confidence in SA increases

JOHANNESBURG – THE SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci)’s Business Confidence Index (BCI) rose by 3.5 index points to 92.8 in February from 89.3 in January, it said  this week.

“Rather than broad-based, the marked increase of the BCI can be ascribed to more specific developments,” the SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci) said in a statement.

“Whether an increase in business confidence will generally be supported by economic and business conditions in 2015 is still uncertain.”

In January the BCI increased by one index point.

Sacci said the higher import and export volumes were the main source for the rise in the BCI.

Although the month-to-month changes in export and import volumes were negative in February, it remained at relative high levels.

Public finance had been jolted into a problematic stalemate which made it tough to alter if economic conditions necessitated change, Sacci said.

There was still a strong bias towards social spending.

“The social spending imperative is one of the reasons for an inflexible budget. Rising public sector debt is cause for concern,” Sacci said.

“The budget did not do much to quell the concerns of business about the direction in which the economy is moving. There is a sense that government still sees itself as the main vehicle to propel the economy to a better performance.”

Sacci said the “stand-off in business confidence” should continue until the private sector sensed a changing business climate.

Lower inflation provided much and timely relief to the consumer and some parastatals such as Eskom and SA Airways, but higher personal income tax could curtail spending while the much higher fuel levy would affect all income groups. -Sapa