Business resilience the reason South Africa’s economy ‘not collapsing completely – Jammine

Unlocking jobs, investment through implementing infrastructure project pipeline – Jammine

Afrisam eyes infrastructure pipeline, green investments

17th March 2023

By: Donna Slater

Creamer Media Chief Photographer and Senior Contributing Editor


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Despite South Africa’s economy being “not a great environment” currently, economic consultancy Econometrix director and chief economist Dr Azar Jammine says South African business has shown typical resilience, ensuring “things are not collapsing completely”.

Speaking at the yearly post-Budget breakfast event hosted by construction materials company AfriSam on February 24, he said business resilience gave him hope, as local industry continued “muddling along” in the face of a myriad of challenges and stumbling blocks.

“That is what is so important . . . [businesses] doing it despite what people see as a completely inept performance by the government, and the massive problems we have with electricity and transport . . . [with business resilience] therein lies the hope,” stated Jammine.

Among the factors impeding economic growth in South Africa was government’s reluctance to see the private sector resolving the country’s infrastructure problems, he added.

Not giving the private sector sufficient freedom meant impeding implementation of a lot of the well-thought-out policies that should be implemented. “Over-regulation has been one of the outcomes of this,” he said.

Other structural impediments stunting economic growth included widespread corruption, failing State-owned entities, low investment rates relative to consumption, energy insecurity, a high cost of interconnectedness and economic policy uncertainty.

A lack of capacity to implement policy and plans led to dormancy and stagnation in rolling out capital- and labour- intensive infrastructure projects, and cadre deployment was resulting in a large portion of government human resources being in positions of power but incapable of actually conducting and executing plans and projects appropriately.

Jammine pointed out that the low quality of education in South Africa required serious attention, stating that, on average, for every 40 children entering school, 12 years later in their matric year, only one would get as much as 60% for mathematics.

Another worrying trend in South Africa was a secular decline in capital investment in the economy. “For emerging markets, like South Africa, generally, the ratio of fixed investment to gross domestic product [GDP] roughly averages around 25% to 30%,” he said.

In South Africa, the ratio of fixed investment to GDP has declined from 19% to 13%.

Meanwhile, Jammine pointed out that increasing crime and lawlessness were bad news for a limping economy and in terms of attracting foreign investment.

“We have to get on top of that if we are going to make any inroads into improving the economy,” he said.

However, Jammine added that a “ray of hope” existed in a slight uptick in this performance over the past year. “But it is still extremely weak and not sustainable in terms of producing higher economic growth.

“Going hand in hand with that has been a deterioration in the productive sectors of the economy,” he noted.

The mining sector, for instance, declined about 15% from its performance in 2010, most recently having been saved by rising commodity prices, “which has meant that mineral sales have actually done reasonably well, even though actual production has been falling”.

Another global economic pressure and cause for concern was rapidly rising inflation and interest rates. However, Jammine said South Africa was faring better than some developed countries on the inflation front, inflation having risen less than in the US, Europe and the UK.

He said there was “some hope” that the worst of the rise in inflation was over and that, with the fall-off in commodity prices, inflation was starting to “come off the boil”.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online



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