Archive from February, 2013

Steady influx of European pensioners into SA

Pensioners, especially from southern Europe who are seeing their
pensions and other benefits erode as a result of austerity measures
introduced by the European Union, are looking at some unusual parts of
South Africa to resettle.
One of these areas is the West Rand which includes Florida, Roodepoort
and even the old mining town of Randfontein. Fred Steffers, managing
director of Krugersdorp-based Apex Property Brokers said he has had
numerous enquiries during November and December from Europeans who
were on holiday in South Africa and who were looking to resettle.
“Obviously the well-heeled crowd are looking at the western Cape
including the Winelands and the Natal south Coast. For the
hard-pressed Greeks, Spanish and Portuguese nationals, something that
offers substantially better value for money and is at the same time
affordable has brought the West Rand into sharp focus.”
There are several reasons why South Africa has become a preferred
destination for these pensioner immigrants, Steffers said.
“First of all the visa requirements are fairly lenient and as long as
an pensioner immigrant can prove that they have an adequate visible
means of support and that they will not become a burden to the state,
visas are usually fairly easily obtainable. There are sizeable Greek
and Portuguese communities already in the country that provide a
ready-made support system. South Africa being a nation of immigrants
means that they are usually welcomed with open arms.”
The fact that bonds are fairly easily available if the buyer is able
to ante up a sizeable deposit is an additional factor that makes the
country an attractive proposition, as is the fact that interest rates
are at historic lows.
Steffers said the foreign demand for properties is growing at an
exponential rate but is important to note that owners need to price
their homes at realistic prices.
“European immigrants are getting around ten Rand for every Euro they
bring into the country, plus properties in South Africa have
historically been priced substantially below their European
counterparts, makes South Africa a very attractive destination.
“In most cases, we are able to offer much the same infrastructure in
terms of shopping and recreational facilities as their home countries.
In additional, retirement villages are springing up all over the place
for a time when these individuals may need additional care and
support,” Steffers said.
Another positive for foreign buyers is that house prices, according to
almost all indices, are at best flat with a similar outlook going
forward.
There has also been solid interest from buyers in other African states
who see South Africa as a safe haven with a stable democracy free of
wars and revolutions.
At the top of the list are buyers from Nigeria and Uganda with solid
interest from Francophone countries like the Ivory Coast, Steffers
said. There has also been solid interest from foreign buyers in
properties like guest houses and rural estates.

Feb 16, 2013 - Business Permit, General    No Comments

SA shines as emerging economy

South Africa is the leading emerging economy on the African continent
in terms of potential investment destination, a report has found.
In its recent report, Emerging Markets Opportunity Index: High Growth
Economies, independent consulting and accounting firm Grant Thornton
said South Africa was ahead of Nigeria in terms of potential
investment destinations.
According to the results for 2012, South Africa was also the only
African country to be ranked in the top 15 emerging economies
worldwide, said the firm on Wednesday.
There were significant benefits that continued to attract investors to
South Africa despite recent events in the mining sector. “Although
recent events in the mining sector have hurt our country`s reputation
as a destination of choice for foreign direct investment (FDI), there
are significant benefits that continue to attract investors,” Grant
Thornton South Africa chairman Deepak Nagar said.
The Grant Thornton emerging markets opportunity index brings together
a number of key indicators, incorporating the firm`s International
Business Report (IBR) data with the emerging markets research from the
World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and United Nations Human
Development Report.
SA climbed one place to 14th in terms of global rankings in the
Emerging Economies survey, maintaining its position as the highest
ranked African economy, ahead of Nigeria, which climbed nine places to
17th.
Some of the indicators incorporated as indicators to rank the 27
largest emerging economies, in terms of their potential for business
investment, are population, and economy size, wealth, involvement in
world trade and levels of development.
The survey highlighted that inflows of FDI into the country`s local
economy have been volatile over the past decade. FDI peaked at
US$9billion in 2008 before the financial crisis struck, recovering to
US$6 billion in 2011. Inflows over the first half of 2012 were down
44% compared with the same period in 2011.
SA`s banking sector has long been rated among the top 10 globally and
its financial system, one of the most developed on the continent,
continues to grow. “It is a well-known fact internationally that SA`s
financial systems are sophisticated, robust and well-regulated, while
its economy boasts a world-class securities exchange.
“The government has identified massive infrastructure projects as key
to boosting the economic growth rate, as well as creating employment,
and it is spending billions of rands on getting the investment ball
rolling,” said Nagar.
Another key attraction for international investors, according to the
survey, is South Africa`s strategic geographic location, acting as the
gateway to Africa. The country also offers world-class ICT and
transport infrastructure, boosted by investment ahead of the 2010 FIFA
World Cup.
According to the report, a forecast of 2013 revealed that 71% of local
businesses expect an increase in revenue over the next 12 months.
In terms of international expansion by SA business owners, 80% of
South African businesses are looking at other parts of Africa for
investment.
However, since Nigeria improved its ranking by nine places since the
last survey, South Africa will need to improve its competitive edge
“in order to maintain its leading ranking in the years to come”.
When looking at other countries ranked in the survey, mainland China
remains way out in front at the head of the emerging economies index,
by virtue of its strong economic growth rates and large consumer
market.  India ranked in second place.
Egypt (which came 22nd) and Algeria (which came 26th) were the only
other two African countries ranked in the index.
The IBR is a survey of both listed and privately held businesses. The
data for this release are drawn from interviews conducted between May
and September 2012 with over 6000 businesses from all industry sectors.

SA Trade conditions in positive territory

Trade conditions improved in January 2013 following a decline in
December, said the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry
(SACCI) on Wednesday.
It said the strong improvement seen in trade conditions in November
was followed by a dramatic 15 index points decline to 42 in December,
with a recovery to 52 in January.
The seasonally adjusted Trade Activity Index (TAI) decreased to 44 in
December 2012 from 53 in November. It recovered to 54 in January, four
index points higher than in January 2012.
The improvement in the TAI in January was on the back of
business-to-business trade that normalised following the holiday season.
Trade prospects [Trade Expectations Index] for the next six months
improved further from 62 in January 2012 and 60 in December 2012 to 65
in January 2013. The seasonally adjusted TEI improved from 59 in
December to 63 in January.
All sub-components of trade activity shed the pessimism of December
2012 and were positive. Although present and expected conditions are
usually positive in January, improved new orders stand out as an
indication that the positive outlook for the next six months may realise.
In January, sales and input prices increased further with the sales
price index increasing from 59 to 64 and the input price index rising
from 68 to 71.
Higher than expected prices raised a concern about possible higher
inflationary expectations, with both the sales and input price indices
well in the 70s.
“The  greater than inflation increases in labour costs,  expected
higher electricity tariffs and the impact of the weaker rand on
imported inputs like fuel, substantially increase the prospects of
greater price instability,” noted Sacci.
The index on expected sales prices rose by a further index point to 73
while the index on expected input prices is 13 points up on the July
2012 level of 66.
Employment in the trade environment remained unchanged in January
2013, with the index in negative territory at 49.  The index on
employment prospects (employment expectations index) for the next six
months increased to 56 from 53 in December 2012.

Feb 5, 2013 - Business Permit    No Comments

Speedy, secure birth certificates soon

2013-01-31 15:31

 

Naledi Pandor (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Pretoria – South Africa will soon issue only unabridged birth certificates, Home Affairs Minister Naledi Pandor said in Pretoria on Thursday.

The documents, which were sometimes referred to as “full birth certificates”, would be issued to the parents of new-born babies from March, she said.

“We are pleased to announce to the people of South Africa that from 4 March, the department will end the practice of issuing the abridged birth certificates and will only issue unabridged certificates,” she said.

“The unabridged certificate contains the details of the child, the mother, the father, and their identity numbers.”

Pandor said the unabridged certificates would be issued at no cost.

The abridged certificates, which were sometimes called the short form, were prone to illegal reproduction.

They contained details of the child and the mother, but not the father, and took six to eight weeks to produce.

“We will be ensuring that we improve our turnaround time and that we [provide] speedy, efficient, and accurate service delivery, something we strive for as a department,” said Pandor.

Security features on the unabridged certificates had also been improved.

“This will help us to have a more secure national population register because of the security improvements.

“We are therefore confident that we will not have persons registering children who were not born in South Africa,” she said.

Abridged certificates would still be legally recognised as registrations of children.

– SAPA

 

Feb 5, 2013 - Business Permit    No Comments

Home affairs official held for fraud

2013-01-12 07:06

 

Johannesburg – An Isipingo home affairs department official was arrested on Friday for allegedly participating in an insurance fraud scam, KwaZulu-Natal police said.

The 29-year-old was the sixth person believed to be involved in a syndicate which cashed in on other people’s funeral policies, police spokesperson Vincent Mdunge said in a statement.

The syndicate allegedly used living people’s identity documents to register them as deceased with home affairs.

One man’s funeral policy, taken out with Momentum insurance company, was defrauded of R50 000.

Police arrested the first alleged syndicate member, Jackson Zungu, on 12 December in Pinetown.

John Mhlangu from Stanger, was arrested shortly after.

Mhlangu allegedly passed on the victim’s particulars to Zungu.

On 13 December, Sibongiseni Thabethe and Mbongeni Majola were arrested in Durban.

Thabethe was arrested for a similar crime in October last year and released on bail.

On 14 December, a fifth person, Patros Dlamini, was arrested.

The home affairs official arrested on Friday allegedly stole the relevant form from the department, then registered the living person’s details so a death certificate could be obtained.

When all the relevant documents were ready, the claim was submitted and R50 000 was fraudulently obtained from the funeral policy.

The home affairs official would appear in the Durban Magistrate’s Court on Monday.

The other suspects appeared in the court previously. All but one was granted R1 200 bail.

Per News24

Feb 5, 2013 - Business Permit    No Comments

TripAdvisor coup for Cape Grace Hotel

Monday, 21 January 2013

The annual Tripadvisor Traveler’s Choice Awards have begun being announced for 2013, starting with the Best Hotels in the World as selected by Tripadvisor users.

The Cape Grace in the V&A Waterfront, Cape Town has been named second Best Hotel in the World .

The Cape Grace was beaten only by the Four Seasons Resort, Hualalai at historic Ka’upulehu in Hawaii. Reviews by users of Tripadvisor describe the Cape Grace as a “superb hotel in a fantastic location”, offering “understated elegance”. It was also praised for being “extremely comfortable” and a “seamless” experience.

Cape Town Tourism CEO, Mariette du Toit-Helmbold was elated to hear the announcement and described the accolade as an “incredibly positive endorsement of Cape Town, a hearty cheer from the crowd! The Cape Grace has always been an exemplary hotel and a benchmark for the best in Cape Town hospitality. We are so pleased that they have been recognised in such an authoritative way.”

Cape Town winners in the World’s Best Small Hotel category include:

  • Third – Blackheath Lodge, Cape Town Central
  • Thirteenth – Derwent House, Cape Town Central

Cape Town winners in the B&B’s and Inns category are:

  • Eleventh – Cube Guest House, Hout Bay
  • Twentieth – Boutique Manolo , Cape Town Central

2013 marks the eleventh edition of the Tripadvisor awards.

SA – the Good News

Feb 5, 2013 - Business Permit    No Comments

Treasury welcomes results of open budget index

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

The National Treasury has welcomed the Open Budget Index Survey results that put South Africa second out of 100 countries in the transparency of its budget processes.

The Washington-based International Budget Partnership has placed South Africa in second place in its Open Budget Index report of 2012, with a score of 90 points out of a possible 100 points.

South Africa is one of only six countries worldwide that releases extensive budget information to the legislature and the public in general.

The African democracy institute, Idasa, works in partnership with the International Budget Partnership on the Open Budget Index, which is the only independent, comparative and regular measure of budget transparency and accountability around the world. It is produced by independent experts not beholden to national governments.

On Monday, Treasury said it strived to constantly improve public finance management processes to ensure that there was a clear understanding of how public funds were used. “The Open Budget Index Survey is a welcome review of our budgeting processes. This respected international assessment encourages South Africans – parliamentarians, the media, civil society and the general public – to use the information published in the budget documents more often and more effectively,” said Treasury.

The survey, which was started in 2006, is conducted every two years to measure how well governments around the world ensure that budget information is publicly available, thereby encouraging citizen participation in the national budget process.

In 2012, South Africa came second, with New Zealand taking the top spot in the index that analysed 100 countries worldwide. The United Kingdom came third, Sweden fourth and Norway came in at fifth place. In the last edition of the index in 2010, South Africa achieved top honours.

“South Africa continues to do well because of the strong foundation provided by the National Treasury, the government’s determination to continue with their budget reform programmes and a realisation that open budgets are a necessary condition for our vibrant democracy,” said Russell Wildeman, the lead Researcher on the project at Idasa.

Wildeman noted that external reviewers raised concerns about the quality of the country’s non-financial information and the consistency with which the Auditor-General’s recommendations were addressed. He said the results should not be viewed in a negative light, seeing that South Africa was a world leader in budget transparency and openness. Instead, he said weaknesses needed to be addressed.

An area where South Africa had significant room for improvement was in the public’s overall participation in the budget process.

One of the researchers on the survey, Thembinkosi Dlamini, noted that poor levels of public participation should not necessarily be attributed to actions taken by the government. “It is a well-known fact that the pace of budget reform in the 1990s and continuing into the 2000s has outstripped the ability of ordinary citizens and citizen groups to make a meaningful input into the budget and budget processes,” said Dlamini.

The index, now in its fourth edition, bemoans the general lack of budget transparency globally and regards the situation as “dismal”. It further notes that gradual changes are taking place, but the pace at which this happens means that only the next generation of citizens are likely to reap the full benefits of open budgets and budget processes.

“The National Treasury will continue to improve on our budgeting processes so that we achieve a top ranking again… Importantly, we aim to ensure that the information made available to the public continues to be comprehensive and enables the public to assess government’s achievements and accountability,” it said.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan will deliver the 2013 Budget to Parliament on 27 February at 2pm. The public are reminded to send their budget tips to the minister at Private Bag X115 Pretoria 0001, via www.treasury.gov.za or fax them to 012 315 5126.

SA – the Good News via SAnews.gov.za

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