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Ackerman: Info bill will scare off investors

Jun 07 2011 12:51 Sapa

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Pretoria - The controversial protection of information bill will have a direct impact on foreign investment in South Africa, Pick n Pay chairperson Gareth Ackerman said on Tuesday.

The bill will also hamper South African businesses from making critical decisions essential to their survival, he said in a statement.

Foreign investors need assurance that the country is serious about fighting corruption, and that government affairs are transparent and accountable. Readily available and reliable economic data is essential.

“In the absence of these features, South Africa’s reputation as a destination for foreign investment will suffer, as will our reputation as a state that is governed by the rules of openness and accessibility.”

Business, which brings about job creation and economic growth, can only flourish where there is a free flow of information.

“Without the assurance that financial data is not manipulated, that vital information is not being suppressed and that government malfeasance is not being concealed, it is virtually impossible for the private sector to make the long-term, strategic investment decisions that are essential to its survival.”

He urged business to be more vociferous in its opposition to the bill.

“It should be of concern to the business community that any perceived limitation on media freedom will be negatively viewed by the international markets on which we rely for investment and confidence.”

He said the internet and social media would make it very difficult to enforce the bill if it became law. He questioned whether the government is considering deploying thousands of “internet police”. If so, this is not what the writers of the country’s constitution had envisaged.

“The time for business in South Africa to speak out jointly and severally is now. This is one genie that cannot be put back into the bottle.”

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