If there was a standout piece of bad news in last week's first-quarter growth numbers, it was the 20.5% contraction in investment spending. The trend is not new. Fixed investment has shown positive growth in only four quarters in the past four years; in real terms it is now more than 10% lower than five years ago. This means the economy isn't adding or even maintaining the capacity it needs to start growing. Nor is it building the infrastructure SA needs to become more competitive. Fortunately, everyone agrees that investment, particularly in infrastructure, is a top priority.

Business for SA's recovery plan released on Friday cites this as a cornerstone, with energy, transport and ICT infrastructure high on its list of priority projects. And the ANC's latest economic document identifies an infrastructure-led recovery as the first pillar of its new policy framework. Everyone agrees, too, that much of the money will have to come from the private sector...

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