Power crisis: Shoprite, Coca-Cola, Burger King and others urge Ramaphosa to halt fuel taxes

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Pick n Pay chair Gareth Ackerman.
Pick n Pay chair Gareth Ackerman.
  • The country's largest consumer companies have urged President Cyril Ramaphosa to scrap the sugar tax and suspend fuel levies to help businesses cope with load shedding.
  • They said load shedding, which had "escalated catastrophically", were crippling businesses.
  • The companies also want essential food production to be exempt from load shedding.
  • For more financial news, go to the News24 Business front page.

The Consumer Goods Council of South Africa (CGCSA) on Tuesday urged President Cyril Ramaphosa to scrap the sugar tax, as well as suspend the fuel duty and road accident fund levies for the industry amid record levels of load shedding.

In an open letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa - sent on behalf of the CEOs of Shoprite, PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Tiger Brands, Burger King, British American Tobacco, Walmart-owned Massmart, Steers-owner Famous Brands and others - the CGCSA says that load shedding has "escalated catastrophically" and was crippling businesses.

The CGCSA represents 12 000 businesses, including top manufacturers, retailers and wholesalers.

The open letter, which was signed by CGCSA and Pick n Pay chairperson Gareth Ackerman, said the cost of power generators is unsustainable, and would result in higher prices for already-embattled consumers.

READ | Fixing SA: Ramaphosa calls on business to get off the rooftops and 'into the ring'

"The deterioration of other essential infrastructure – including water, roads, rail, and policing – all make our tasks, and those of thousands of other businesses around the country, even more difficult," the CGCSA said in the letter.

"If this crisis continues, we will not be able to guarantee stable supplies of food, medicines and other essential goods. The government needs to understand this, rather than believe we can maintain business as usual."

READ | Govt unable to fix SA's problems, so business has to do it itself, summit hears

The letter details urgent actions that government needs to take assist businesses, including scrapping the so-called sugar tax. The CGCSA also called for the suspension of the fuel duty and Road Accident Fund levies for the consumer goods businesses and its value chain, "for as long as we suffer regular load shedding".

The CGCSA said its industry is a "critical sector that should be considered for fuel rebates similar to the mining, agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors".

Effective taxes and other incentives were also needed to install localised renewable energy at small and medium scale.

The CGCSA also action was required to ensure that critical infrastructure such as essential food production, medicines and distribution facilities were "not only exempted from load shedding but are prioritised on the safety and security list".

The letter comes as Ramaphosa seemingly fired a broadside at the private sector at the Mining Indaba in Cape Town on Tuesday, urging it not just to criticise, but to work together with the government to solve SA’s problems, such as its energy crisis.

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