The state of SA’s civil construction industry — as shown by the fourth-quarter FNB/BER civil confidence index — is so dire that a rise of four index points to 19 out of a maximum of 100 lifted the index from the 17-year low in the third quarter of 2017. The subindex measuring employment growth reached its worst level since mid-2011. Despite a slight uptick in confidence, growth in construction activity also slowed further in the quarter. It is time to apportion blame for this and the associated demise of the steel industry. SA’s big listed construction companies did not change after 1994. Instead, their corrosive arrogance caused them to be fined altogether R1.46bn for collusion and, more recently, agreeing to pay R1.5bn more towards industry transformation. SA’s largest steel producer, ArcelorMittal SA, also harboured monopolistic attitudes and was fined R1.5bn for price fixing. As the government has moved most of its infrastructure spending to rural areas, large listed constructio...

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