The majority of respondents in the FNB/Bureau for Economic Research (BER) Civil Confidence Index are dissatisfied with prevailing business conditions, as evidenced by the index slipping to 15 in the fourth quarter.
This followed a rise to 17 points during the third quarter of the year.
FNB economist Siphamandla Mkhwanazi explains that the sentiment among respondents to the index remains low despite some improvements in underlying indicators such as activity and profitability.
He attributes a possible reason behind the persistently weak level of confidence to the total value of construction activity being much lower than in prior years, although the growth in activity is better this quarter.
The survey finds improved sentiment in tender activity, but it remains to be seen whether all projects realise or are commissioned in good time, since tender awards are lagging.
The rating of insufficient new demand as a business constraint declined to 83% in the fourth quarter, from 89% in the third quarter. This is the lowest level of the index since the fourth quarter of last year.
Mkhwanazi says an acceleration in the rollout of infrastructure projects by the State can go a long way to alleviate woes in the sector.