In a bid to drive transformation in the accountancy profession and reach aspiring professional accountants in outlying areas seeking to write their Professional Evaluation examination, the South African Institute of Professional Accountants (SAIPA) has, along with the Sector Education and Training Authority for Finance, Accounting, Management Consulting and other Financial Services (FASSET), now taken their Project Achiever programme online. In the past, only candidates in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town and Durban were able to attend the programme, which excluded those living in other cities, and in the outlying areas. New entrants to the profession are mandated to pass the Professional Evaluation examination - a requirement of their International Education Standards. The exam assesses whether the aspiring professional accountant meets the minimum competence or proficiency level to be assigned the designation of Professional Accountant (SA), which is an NQF level 8 qualification in terms of the National Qualifications Framework. How it works Project Achiever Online went live on the 21st of January 2017 and works from Moodle, an open source inter-active learning platform that is designed to create an effective e-Learning environment that allows the candidates who have registered via “distance-learning” to interact with the candidates attending face-to-face session as well as having direct contact with the facilitators. All material, assignments and assessments are delivered through the online platform, which also afford the candidates a Q & A forum. Additionally, the platform provides for facilitator and learner feedback, tutorials and discussion forums, creating an e-Learning setting that encourages collaboration between teacher and student as well as student to student. Learners who meet the criteria for funding from the FASSET Project Achiever criteria, can access the e-Learning programme at no extra cost. How Project Achiever was . . .
When it comes to delays and the assessment of delay claims, there is limited guidance available. In fact, there is no clear path in terms of managing the issue, establishing process or determining who is ultimately responsible. The result is that many unexpected delays end in disputes which can potentially impact on relationships and the success of a project. There has long been a need for the industry to have access to a simple, standardised process which walks all parties through the claim and finds equally simple answers to the problems. This need inspired the development of the Decision Support Framework, a tool designed to assist in the assessment of claims from the start, eliminating indecision and uncertainty and providing users with a clear route to resolution. The framework was crafted over a number of years, and was designed to be easy to understand and capable of managing claims across industry and incident. The Decision Support Framework is currently being integrated as part of the Association of South African Quantity Surveyors’ (ASAQS) member toolkit via continuous professional development (CPD) training courses which are being offered around the country. The intended outcome is to assist quantity surveyors in making accurate assessments, determining root causes and, ultimately, saving customers money. Alongside supporting the more accurate and efficient assessment of delay claims, the tool adds a sense of fair play – the standardisation of process and procedure allowing all parties equal say. Often, there is no small measure of uncertainty when it comes to claim assessments, so if all parties are using the same resource, it ensures that both client and contractor have the same input, see the same results and have their concerns acknowledged. This can also have a positive impact on time spent with claims, reducing disputes and saving on costs. The goal is to complete the project, not become embroiled in lengthy debate or lose money as the days . . .
Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan, released updated tax tables on the 22 February as is customary in the budget speech towards the end of each government financial year. We understand that as company employees we will be paying more tax and therefor taking less money home in our pockets at the end of the month, because the country needs more money to keep things running. Calculating your tax accurately can be quite a complex job, which is why there are now formal qualifications allowing payroll people to become specialists in this area, at Certificate, Diploma and Degree level. Things like allowances, fringe benefits (i.e. either payments made on your behalf by your employer, or goods), medical aid and retirement funding contributions and various other factors impact the calculation of what is the first item to be determined, being taxable income. Using the Tax Table You may have seen the updated tax table (below), but how do you translate this into knowing how much tax should be deducted from your earnings? Taxable income (R) Rates of tax (R) 0 – 189 880 18% of taxable income 189 881 – 296 540 34 178 + 26% of taxable income above 189 880 296 541 – 410 460 61 910 + 31% of taxable income above 296 540 410 461 – 555 600 97 225 + 36% of taxable income above 410 460 555 601 – 708 310 149 475 + 39% of taxable income above 555 600 708 311 – 1 500 000 209 032 + 41% of taxable income above 708 310 1 500 001 and above 533 625 + 45% of taxable income above 1 500 000 The first column on the table represents the Rand value of your anticipated earnings in the tax year, which runs for the period March 2017 to the end of February 2018. So, if you earn R10 000 taxable income in March, this must be translated into your anticipated annual income, thus: R10 000 x 12 = R120 000 (a). You can expect to have taxable income of R120 000 by the end of February next year. To calculate the tax on this, refer to the second column on the table, . . .
There are some very good reasons why alternative building methods aren’t that feasible in the South African market. They can potentially be more expensive than traditional methods, don’t inspire customer trust and may not be as aesthetically pleasing. Alternative building methods also come with a hidden price tag that can impact on quality and finish. “There is a resistance to alternative methods in South Africa,” says Bert van den Heever, Immediate Past President of the Association of South African Quantity Surveyors (ASAQS). “Most of the alternative construction methods have concentrated on providing alternative walling and roofing systems, the two largest elements you see when looking at a building. “Trying to save money on walling using alternative building methods is sometimes a futile exercise as walling normally comes in at less than 10% of the total project cost,” van den Heever said. The use of clad walling systems has resulted in a negative perception in the lower end of the housing market called the Knock Factor Effect. People knock the walls, if they sound hollow they instantly perceive the build as not solid or secure. They want to solidity of brick – the traditional materials - over the perceived flimsiness of panels – the alternative ones.” In addition to the impact of perception, alternative building materials are not always readily available in South Africa and often have to be imported. This pins on a price tag that few can afford. As a result, there is some growth within the high-end market, but limited uptake in the lower end of the market. “The value of using alternative building methods is hard to quantify,” says van den Heever. “We can show a client how using method B compared to method A will affect costs and often the answer isn’t in favour of alternative solutions. What we do is look at is every aspect of the building and assess exactly what the costs are going to be from the start. We bring clarity – you may not like the . . .
The Association for South African Quantity Surveyors (ASAQS) says that Quantity Surveyors are best placed to stem corruption in government infrastructure projects. The first step, says Larry Feinberg, Executive Director of ASAQS, is for both government officials as well as the ordinary taxpayer to understand what the role of a professional Quantity Surveyor (QS) is. “Globally, construction projects are highly susceptible to cost-overruns, owing to a number of factors. Here in South Africa, as in many other countries, we have the additional problem of corruption, where due process is flouted in order to benefit connected individuals or companies, often during the construction process itself,” says Feinberg. “The person best placed to identify deviations from the original tender in terms of both scope and pricing is the QS and, as such, they act as the client’s watchdog. In the case of public projects, we should remember, the client is ultimately the taxpayer, whose money is being spent—or wasted, in some cases.” Feinberg goes on to say, “In order to have the greatest impact, QSs should be involved right from the initiation stage of the project and also be involved in the planning and feasibility reports in addition to the approval of the actual procurement strategies”. One of the key issues in any project is to ensure that the tender is awarded to the right contractor at the right price. QSs play a critical role here because they are trained to manage the financial and legal processes of a project. During the design stage the QS’s estimate is the tool to ensure the design remains within the budget. During the procurement stage the QS produces the Bills of Quantities (BoQ) on which fair and equitable tenders are based. The BoQ is the ultimate document that provides the client with the knowledge of how much the project is going to cost before construction begins, which is invaluable in judging the tenders before they are awarded. The QS’s professional . . .
Despite the changes being made to many organisation’s performance management processes, setting clear performance objectives is vital. It ensures that employees focus on work that helps them contribute optimally to both team and business success whilst growing their careers. “If done right, goal setting is still considered key in enabling employees to start any performance period or role with an understanding of their role priorities and what success looks like,” says Lindiwe Sebesho, Executive Committee Member, South African Reward Association (SARA). “It can also direct development efforts as employees can use this as reference for refining their capabilities for the short and long term growth. Most importantly, setting effective objectives reduces the stress associated with performance reviews for those organisations that still hold these formally.” Whilst performance objectives used to be set annually at the beginning of a performance period, more organisations now encourage shorter objective setting cycles e.g. quarterly, as this helps them adjust their focus in line with changes in their environment. “It is important that employees optimise the objective setting processes in their companies to align their career goals with those of the organisation,” says Sebesho. “As goal setting discussions usually happen in teams and/or directly with an employee’s line manager, employees can use these goals to understand key business priorities and the contributions they can make. Not only should this ensure that their performance is in line with what the company expects from them, but it also enables them to work proactively towards a common result which benefits all.” Clear performance objectives are imperative There are various ways in which organisations guide the development of objectives to ensure that they are output focused and drive valued results. The most common of these is the CSMART principle: Challenging, Specific, Measurable, Attainable, . . .
In testament to the groundbreaking strides JT Communication Solutions is making in entrepreneurial empowerment and continued leadership, it has been invited by ABSA Bank to participate, as a preferred exhibitor, in the first ever Global Entrepreneurship Congress in Africa. The GEC takes place at the Sandton Convention Centre from 13 March to 17 March 2017. The event attracts speakers and delegates from over 160 countries and brings together entrepreneurs, investors, policymakers, researchers and support organisations dedicated to helping new businesses start and scale. Over 4000 delegates attend the event, each representing distinct components in the global entrepreneurial ecosystem. “JT Comms is proud to be a preferred exhibitor on the invite of ABSA. This is another of several opportunities created by its banker in creating spaces for SME's to link to global entrepreneurship,” says Vanessa Perumal, founder and CEO of JT Communication Solutions. Started in 2004, JT Communication Solutions has been an integral voice in the arts and culture landscape creating innovative solutions that redefine the African narrative. With over thirty years of marketing, media and communications industry experience and many personal years of entrepreneurial experience Perumal has now turned her focus to transforming markets for entrepreneurs. With the belief that creating wealth at all levels will accelerate social cohesion, JT Communication Solutions, as a company is working on several diverse projects that they believe will build collaborative value systems and sacred economies. With a highly resourced team of influencers, JT Communication Solutions prides itself in excelling in creating positive 360-degree turnkey marketing solutions. It is known for creating quick turn-around solutions, and delivering excellence in developing media strategies through its one stop PR, media and marketing. JT Communication Solutions has the agility and flexibility to manage diverse . . .
The growing shortage of quality high-rise accommodation within the Pretoria region is being met with the coming on stream of a number of impressive Menlyn residential developments catering to a variety of different needs and requirements. These include substantial projects such as Capital Menlyn Maine apartment and conferencing hotel, which will open on 1 May, and The Regency, an upmarket apartment development due for completion later this year. “With Pretoria being the seat of the executive branch of government in South Africa, and a significant business centre, it attracts diplomats, embassy, trade mission staff as well as businessmen and women from around the country and the world,” says Retha Schutte, Pam Golding Properties regional executive, Pretoria. “It is therefore pleasing to note that such residential developments are now coming to fruition within the Menlyn node. These will contribute greatly to meeting the ever-growing need for accommodation and both long and short term rentals in the region.” According to Schutte, The Capital is a 200-room upmarket apartment and conferencing hotel, while The Regency is a 227-apartment development, which is currently under construction and is expected to be completed at the end of 2017. “The realisation of these developments is exciting for the Pretoria region and a coming of age for Menlyn in particular, which is rapidly emerging into a most impressive mixed-use urban space. “The Capital, where a standard room will be charged at R1 600 a night or R16 000 per week, will no doubt attract visiting business people, executives and diplomats who require a luxury short-term rental which enables them to work, meet, commute, socialise, shop and live in a single, comfortable location with all the necessary amenities at hand,” she points out. Schutte says that one- and two-bedroomed apartments at The Regency, can be purchased from between R1 159 200 and R2 511 600, offering buyers a range of attractive . . .
Cape Town, March, 7, 2017. Life admin is the buzz word of the year, and it’s a perfect fit for all those little daily details that everybody has to do, but hates doing – buying electricity, taking out insurance, providing adequate health care cover and so on. However, in a move set to bring millions to the shores of Cape Town, Merchants in partnership with iSelect, will be easing the life admin burden of thousands of Australians with the signing of a five-year business deal between the two southern hemisphere companies. Established in 2000, iSelect started as a health insurance comparison website, but has recently diversified its product offering and is now selling additional services such as car and life insurance, home loans, electricity and broadband. This has resulted in significant growth for iSelect, however their challenge was to find enough talent to manage the growing rate of customer queries – a somewhat difficult task in Australia where the unemployment rate is low. “For most companies, offshoring a contact centre is about bringing costs down and efficiencies up. However for iSelect, the offshore move was to enable it to effectively grow the business, while still providing top quality service to its already established client base,” explains Darren Arnold, Strategy Director at Merchants. “They needed a skilled and educated sales force that could deliver high quality telephonic sales driven by a desire to always get it right – no matter what ‘it’ may be. The products that iSelect sell are needed, but not items people would spend hours choosing. Their customers want to get what they need as quickly as possible so that they can go on with their daily lives.” With Merchants partnering with iSelect to manage the contact centre in Cape Town, their customers can experience the best in skills and technology to deliver this aspect of life admin correctly and with minimum interruption to their day or night. In addition, all iSelect consultants are . . .
South African entrepreneurs across all sectors have the opportunity to share their views and make their voices heard in the country’s largest entrepreneurial survey, The State of Entrepreneurship in South Africa 2017 - The Entrepreneur's View. The survey comes as high unemployment and poor growth remain among the most pressing issues facing the economy today. Conducted by Seed Academy and now in its third year, the survey continues to enjoy success as the biggest and most widely referenced survey of its kind. In 2017 the survey expands its scope and focus from start-ups to all entrepreneurs in order to gain an accurate picture of the state of entrepreneurship directly from entrepreneurs themselves. “Entrepreneurship is often mentioned as an antidote to South Africa’s economic woes. Through this survey we want to pinpoint exactly how much or how little things have progressed over the last two years,” says Donna Rachelson, Group CEO Seed Engine. The newly expanded survey is open to all entrepreneurs irrespective of business size, age or revenue and aims to create a basis for real dialogue in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. “In what is no doubt a difficult economic environment, the time is ripe to take a closer look at whether entrepreneurs are getting the support they really need to grow their businesses into sustainable and successful enterprises,” she adds. The online survey takes less than 10 minutes to complete, following which participants have the chance to be part of exclusive one-on-one mentoring sessions with some of South Africa’s leading entrepreneurial lights. Just some of the sessions include ‘Swimming with a Shark’ featuring Gil Oved, Co-founder of The Creative Counsel, SA’s biggest activations agency, ‘Dreaming Beeg’ with Miles Khubeka, Founder of the Vuyo’s restaurant brand, and ‘Getting that entrepreneurial feeling’, led by Ian Fuhr, Founder of the Sorbet Group, with more sessions to be announced in the coming weeks. This year’s survey . . .