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Latest price hike has fuelled Raymond Ackerman's fight for a free market

By unknown | Jun 07, 2007 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Xolile Bhengu

Xolile Bhengu

Government petrol price regulation is one of the last vestiges of the apartheid era that needs to be changed, according to Pick 'n Pay's 73-year-old founder and chairman Raymond Ackerman.

"I have been fighting price control for more than 33 years," Ackerman said.

The latest price hike, which has taken local fuel prices to a record high, has reinvigorated Ackerman's fight to get this market deregulated. He has reiterated his past commitment to not retire as Pick 'n Pay chairman until the petrol market is deregulated.

The number of garages Pick 'n Pay operates has halved from a dozen 20 years ago because the government has tightened instead of relaxed petrol regulation.

"We, like any other garage owner, are not allowed to cut the price of petrol. We should have a free market to introduce competition in the price of petrol, and make an enormous contribution to consumers," Ackerman said.

South Africa's regulations on petrol prices protected oil companies at the expense of the man on the street, Ackerman said.

"Suppliers argue against a free market because then they would be forced to be competitive and not make as much profit.

"Even if there was an increase internationally, in a deregulated market it would force the local suppliers to keep prices down," Ackerman said.

"The arguments that deregulation might hurt independent garage owners are not valid, as suppliers currently hide behind the government's fixed prices for their sale of petrol," he added.

Ackerman said if the government re-prioritised and deregulated petrol pricing, some of the spin-off's could enable it to lower the tax on petrol, making it more profitable for everyone.

"One day I feel I will win this battle."


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