Economy needs urgent surgery, says Ackerman

Pick n Pay chairman Gareth Ackerman. Picture: Tracey Adams.

Pick n Pay chairman Gareth Ackerman. Picture: Tracey Adams.

Published May 18, 2022


PICK n Pay chairman Gareth Ackerman said yesterday the economy needed urgent surgery as he called for the government to urgently sort out its energy policy issues while harnessing the capability of the private sector to aid the recovery.

This as South Africa has been plunged into repeated load shedding by power utility Eskom, knocking the bottom line of businesses, and hitting the economy.

Speaking during the presentation of the Pick n Pay company results for the 52 weeks ended February 27, 2022, Ackerman said it was only through trusted partnership that the economy would 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,” he said.

Ackerman said accelerating the economy would require extraordinary focus and rapid implementation of reforms which the government had already committed to.

“Our government needs to harness the energy and capability of the private sector, without fear or mistrust,” he said.

Ackerman said a major impact on jobs was the lack of sufficient electrical power.

“The amount of red tape, policy obstacles and legal hoops standing in the way of alternative power generation needs to end,” he said.

He said that according to the Anglo American Platinum CEO, South Africa was one of only four countries in the world that could generate more renewable energy than it needed.

“What an opportunity we are squandering,” Ackerman said. “This requires urgent policy attention.”

Furthermore, the government’s extended public works programme needed to work on cleaning up pollution and repairing potholes and other key infrastructure in our towns and cities with immediate effect, he said, adding that apart from the impact on the economy and the environment, this failure impacted job creation.

On Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Ackerman said ESG was embedded in Pick n Pay’s values of business efficiency.

“Doing good is good business, and consumer sovereignty. We embarked on what is now called ESG in the 1980s, long before it was fashionable or important. ESG matters to long term sustainability – and must work alongside economic and financial factors to reduce, not increase costs,” he said.

Ackerman said artificial intelligence was being used by investor rating agencies to review company disclosures.

“Our 2022 ESG reporting will include an extended list of ESG indicators that are suitable for AI recognition. Our record of social involvement spans over half a century and reaches across the nation,” he said.

Pick n Pay spend with Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) in product and services purchases during the last financial year was R4.3 billion. Nearly 30 percent of the group’s suppliers were small businesses.

“We have increased our investment in black-owned SMMEs with a particular focus on building our black women-owned supplier base,” he said.

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