Business confidence has plummeted to the lowest point in four-years, according to a new report released by New Port Consulting.


The Current State of Play: Managing in Uncharted Waters report surveyed of 259 business leaders in Australia, New Zealand and Asia,  found that 59 per cent of surveyed companies expect growth of less than 10 per cent, compared with just 15 per cent expecting such low rates of growth in 2009.


Overall concern about the state of the economy drove the general pessimism, with rising business costs and the need for productivity improvement going in to 2013 all having an impact on growth forecasts.


The report also singled out the depressed economic growth figures coming out of Europe, the slowing down of the Chinese economy and subdued commodity prices.


An alarming 48 per cent of respondents said they believe the Government is working against their business interests.


Despite the gloomy outlook, the report found that businesses are already taking proactive steps to address growth slowdowns through taking a fresh look at productivity. Measures actively being taken by companies to improve productivity included using resources better (71 per cent), identifying hidden waste (62 per cent) and improving customer service (59 per cent). 


“The fact that businesses are making productivity improvements at a microeconomic level is good news,” says David Hand, Managing Director of Newport Consulting. “However, the government must step in at a macroeconomic level to support this progress. Action is needed to boost productivity in Australia and the wider region, to ensure sustainable levels of competition and economic performance in the immediate future.”