upliftment, and R20bn in capital expenditure in the 2013 financial year, equal to 59% of total capital allocation that Constable says will continue. So no divestment.
He t hen adds, however, t hat t he nationalisation of Canada’s Petro-Canada in Alberta from where Constable hails, was an unmitigated disaster. “The government almost ran the company into the ground,” he says, adding that it didn’t have the depth of management to run a company of that complexity. “Government should focus on health care, infrastructure. That is the appropriate place to focus on,” he adds.
It was a curious comment to make but is suggestive of his frustration. Is it now that Constable is seeing what it takes to operate in the SA regulatory and political environment?
Responding to questions at the year-end results presentation , he complained about the lack of regulatory uncertainty in SA. “The regulatory framework must stay in place; we need certainty for investors to come into SA.” That’s about as outspoken as Constable has been in his short tenure at Sasol. But the issue that gets his goat the most seems to be the National Treasury’s proposed carbon tax: a R120 per ton impost that hits Sasol the hardest of nearly all of SA’s smokestack companies.
“We definitely support a lower carbon economy, but we don’t think that the current tax proposal is the appropriate way,” he says, adding that SA is prematurely aiming at a carbon emissions tax some six or seven years earlier than is likely globally. “We want to be very careful to support the Government, but we must go into it with eyes open,” says Constable.