The hidden cost we are paying in South Africa right now: Pick n Pay chair

South Africa’s towns and cities are taking severe strain and service delivery is making it incredibly difficult to do business, says Pick n Pay chair Gareth Ackerman.

In a presentation following the retailer’s results last week, Pick n Pay chairman Gareth Ackerman said that there is little management of infrastructure at the local government level,

“There has been limited investment or maintenance, and service delivery is very poor. So poor, that we are finding it difficult in some places to secure insurance of our assets.

“National Treasury has had to allocate an additional R11 billion to South African Special Risk Insurance Association (Sasria)  to assist with claims payments and recapitalising them. We simply cannot be in a position where the insurance industry has lost its appetite for South Africa through crime, civil unrest and lack of service delivery.”

Ackerman further called on the government’s extended public works programme to work on cleaning up pollution and repairing potholes and other key infrastructure in the country’s towns and cities with immediate effect. Apart from the impact on the economy and the environment, this failure impacts job creation, he said.

“Another major impact on jobs is the lack of sufficient electrical power. The amount of red tape, policy obstacles and legal hoops standing in the way of alternative power generation need to end. According to the Amplats chief executive, South Africa is only one of four countries in the world that can generate more renewable energy than it needs. What an opportunity we are squandering.

“This requires urgent policy attention. It would also be helpful if government agencies concentrated on the job at hand. We have had nearly a decade of grocery market enquiries by the competition commission, who essentially found nothing. Now there’s a new enquiry into fresh produce. This comes at a huge cost in both money and time.”

Despite these concerns, Ackerman said the future of Pick n Pay is bright but the economy needs ‘urgent surgery’

“Accelerating our economy will require extraordinary focus and rapid implementation of reforms which the government has already committed to.

“Our government needs to harness the energy and capability of the private sector, without fear or mistrust. It is only through trusted partnerships that our economy will recover. The constant focus on issues other than growing the economy is resulting in a smaller cake to share amongst a growing population. We need to grow the economy and start with fixing the fundamentals.”

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The hidden cost we are paying in South Africa right now: Pick n Pay chair