Ina Opperman
Business Journalist
2 minute read
15 Oct 2020
4:45 pm

Pick n Pay’s Gareth Ackerman: poor policy decisions and other worries

Ina Opperman

Government must focus on what it is good at, which is policy formulation and certainty, to create an enabling environment for the business sector to invest, grow and create jobs with limited government intervention.

Pick n Pay chairperson Gareth Ackerman. Picture: Jonathan Jones

The Covid-19 pandemic has emphasised the importance of closer collaboration between government and the business sector to grow the economy, says Gareth Ackerman, co-chair of the Consumer Goods Council of South Africa and Pick n Pay chairperson.

He was speaking at the Consumer Goods Council of SA Summit and lauded the retail and manufacturing industries for their resilience and commitment during the trying times brought about by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The pandemic has highlighted the crucial role of the consumer goods sector in ensuring that people had access to basic goods and food security during the various stages of the lockdown. Some of government’s decisions during the national lockdown had not been well thought-out, such as the ban on the sale of tobacco products and liquor, which caused more harm to the economy.”

Ackerman expressed his concern about government’s unilateral decision to restrict the sale of liquor products for off-site consumption to only between Monday to Friday, while those selling liquor for on-site consumption are permitted to trade throughout the weekend.

“I think there were some poor policy decisions taken by the government, especially banning tobacco and keeping it banned for so long. There was no logical reason and the decisions caused a lot of damage to government,” Ackerman said. People could accept the reasons for the ban if there was transparency about why the ban was necessary.

Ackerman criticised the corruption involving Covid-19 relief funds. “This has really upset consumers and government lost its moral high ground created by the president’s initial Covid-19 speech. These issues get in the way of clear policy formulation and direction.”

He also highlighted the contribution SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) can make to create jobs and grow the economy, steps to take to prevent food wastage and the need to change food packaging to prevent contamination, but reduce the use of plastic.

For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.