SA businesses 'putting off' future decisions and expansion plans

A wave of nationwide strikes and instability in the local mining sector, political insecurity, regulatory concerns and public policy issues are adding further pressure to South Africa's business environment, which are 'putting off' expansion plans, advisory firm Grant Thornton says.

The organisation's quarterly tracker data for the fourth quarter of 2012 revealed that South African business leaders felt uncertainty about the future political direction of the country was impacting on longer-term business decisions.

Business owners also admitted to delaying expansion plans.

Core constraints to business expansion included socioeconomic factors, such as crime and corruption, the lack of available skills in the current workforce and poor service delivery by government.

"The economy is forecast to have expanded by 2.6 percent in 2012, with the exposure of key sectors such as mining and manufacturing to global trade headwinds weighing on growth. Growth is expected to accelerate to 3.1 percent in 2013 and 3.8 percent in 2014 in line with a modest global recovery, although further strikes represent a major downside risk," said Grant Thornton South Africa national chairperson Deepak Nagar. "A number of challenges, including skills shortages, high unemployment, crime and corruption remain and could prove to be key battlegrounds in the run up to the 2014 election.

"Growth is expected to pick up in 2015-17 as the ranks of the middle class swell, boosting consumer spending on durable goods and services such as telecommunications and banking, global conditions improve and new transport and power networks come online."

Grant Thornton ranks South Africa as the leading emerging economy in Africa and it is the only country on the continent to be ranked in the top 15 worldwide according to its Emerging Markets Opportunity Index.

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