A question of price


Rip-off pricing has become topical in the run up to the soccer World Cup, now three months away.

Much has been made of the high price of plane, hotel and even meat prices – yes; chicken and beef prices are rocketing, my butcher says.

But what about defence? I have long been concerned about the mark-up on South African defence products and the opportunity cost of that. A decade ago South Africa was marketing the Rooivalk attack helicopter in Australia, stressing among its attributes the competitive price of a product paid for in Rand. Yet, the Australians, much as they liked the bid, described it as too expensive. They bought the Eurocopter Tiger instead.

Now there’s seemingly more evidence that “we” price ourselves out of the market.

Business Report this week (Tuesday, March 30) reported a Supreme Court of Appeal case involving Rotrax Cars and Absa, the bank. The facts are less important than the per capita cost of the “El Macho” vehicles. The paper reports the special forces of an unspecified country ordered 150 of the small “super-lightweight” 4×4 buggy-type vehicles at a cost of US$60 000 each (R626 000) at the time. That sounds a lot to this layman, especially for something based on a British kit car based on a Ford Cortina. The more so considering it was a two or four seater with a tube space frame chassis with integral role cage to be clad in fibreglass, aluminum, mild or armoured steel.

What say you?