The economic policy intentions announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa were encouraging, if only because they made clear the president fully understands the imperative of faster economic growth. As indeed he should. It was not obvious his predecessor cared at all about growth. The economic diagnosis offered was apposite. For example, to quote the president: “… businesses are not struggling with lack of access to cash. It is due to lack of confidence and a dearth of viable investment opportunities that businesses have been reluctant to spend money on fixed capital. These obstacles require policy and regulatory action that provided clarity and raise efficiency.” It is important to recognise how JSE-listed companies have increased their dividend payments — cash paid out — relative to their after-tax earnings in recent years, for want of investment opportunities that offered high enough risk-adjusted returns. Since 2011, dividends have grown 2.5 times while earnings have increased by onl...

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