Pick n Pay chair slams government for ignoring advice on business issues and alcohol sales

 ·18 Feb 2021

Pick n Pay chair Gareth Ackerman has criticised the government for failing to take up advice and resources offered by the private sector, despite repeated claims that it is looking to the recovery of the economy.

In an op-ed published in Business Day, Ackerman said that suggestions made in good faith by the business sector have fallen on deaf ears, without any explanation from the government on the implementation of policies and regulations that threaten livelihoods.

“We have made several proposals to help revive the clothing industry, create jobs and help the localisation issue, but the government has not progressed with its proposals,” he said.

Ackerman said that the business sector has made proposals on a number of other important topics which will have a long-term impact on South Africa, including consumer goods manufacturing and the sugar master plan.

“The consumer goods sector has supported and implemented every measure put forward by the government in response to the outbreak and impact of Covid-19. We even offered to help with the vaccine rollout and were snubbed.”

He said that government has also failed to come to the party on controversial issues such as alcohol sales.

“Where we have not always agreed with government — for example, over the ban on the sale of liquor — we have engaged in pursuit of common ground.

“However, the current rules on liquor are eroding confidence in government’s approach. Retailers selling liquor for responsible consumption at home are restricted to operating from Monday to Thursday.

“However, those selling liquor for on-site consumption, such as bars and taverns, can trade a full seven days. This makes no sense for a sector that accounts for only 30% of the total liquor throughput.”

Ackerman said that sales restrictions are no longer financially sustainable and are now threatening the survival of retail liquor outlets and jobs in the sector.

He said that the sector is losing 50% to 60% of its liquor sales volumes in the Friday to Saturday period and 10% to 18% on Sundays every week.

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