Business Maverick

BUSINESS MAVERICK

BETI April bounce bodes well for economic recovery

BETI April bounce bodes well for economic recovery
(Photo: Nadine Hutton / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The BankservAfrica Economic Transaction Index, a measurement of economic transactions between SA’s banks calculated by Economists.co.za, posted its fastest year-on-year growth on record in April, but any comparison with April 2020 when economic activity imploded under the hard lockdown is bound to be skewed.

The BankservAfrica Economic Transaction Index (BETI) soared 25.9% last month compared to April in 2020, BankservAfrica said in a statement on Wednesday. It attributed this record bounce to “the low base in April 2020 and the current high commodity prices”.

“The latest figures indicate a rapid economic recovery in South Africa. However, ‘true’ growth is still to be reached,” it noted.

One of the intriguing trends reflected in the data is the deposit of cheques into the dustbin of South African economic history. South Africa, unlike some developing economies at this stage in the 21st century, no longer processes cheques.

“The exit of cheques may have sped up the rate of transactions processed by BankservAfrica and, in turn, contributed to the high actual economic activity recorded by the BETI. Real-Time Clearing (RTC) payments, for example, grew by 122.9% in nominal terms from last April. RTC has been a strong performer for many years, and the current numbers suggest old cheque transactions have taken the RTC route,” the statement said. 

RTC payments can also be easily tracked and traced — as the data show — and so add to transparency to the economy, which is no bad thing as the battle against endemic corruption appears to be gaining some traction.

The recovery was expected to pick up pace this quarter and this is among the first sets of data to support this narrative. The economy still faces many headwinds including load shedding, which is also anticipated to become more frequent as winter sets in and power demand rises. Still, it is not all gloom and doom out there. DM/BM

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