Botswana

Close-up aerial photo of Zambezi River at the ...

Botswana, officially the Republic of Botswana (Tswana: Lefatshe la Botswana), is a landlocked country located in Southern Africa. The citizens are referred to as “Batswana” (singular: Motswana). Formerly the British protectorate of Bechuanaland, Botswana adopted its new name after becoming independent within the Commonwealth on 30 September 1966. It has held free and fair democratic elections since independence.

Botswana is flat, and up to 70% is covered by the Kalahari Desert. It is bordered by South Africa to the south and southeast, Namibia to the west and north, and Zimbabwe to the northeast. Its border with Zambia to the north is poorly defined but at most is a few hundred meters long.[5]

A mid-sized country of just over two million people, Botswana is one of the most sparsely populated countries in the world. Botswana was one of the poorest countries in Africa when it gained independence from Britain in 1966, with a GDP per capita of about US$70. Botswana has since transformed itself, becoming one of the fastest-growing economies in the world to a GDP (purchasing power parity) per capita of about $14,000.[6] The country also has a strong tradition as a representative democracy.

via Botswana – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Since independence, Botswana has had the highest average economic growth rate in the world, averaging about 9% per year from 1966 to 1999. Growth in private sector employment has averaged about 10% per annum over the first 30 years of independence. The relatively high quality of the country’s statistics means that these figures are likely to be quite accurate. The government has consistently maintained budget surpluses and has extensive foreign exchange reserves.

Botswana’s impressive economic record has been built on a foundation of diamond mining, prudent fiscal policies, international financial and technical assistance, and a cautious foreign policy. It is rated the least corrupt country in Africa, according to an international corruption watchdog, Transparency International. By one estimate, it has the fourth highest gross national income atpurchasing power parity in Africa, giving it a standard of living around that ofMexico and Turkey.[4]

Trade unions represent a minority of workers in the Botswana economy. In general they are loosely organized “in-house” unions, although the Botswana Federation of Trade Unions (BFTU) is consolidating its role as the sole national trade union centre in the country.[5][6]

via http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Botswana

Austria

YOTOT(MC): Austria Center Vienna (panorama)

Austria i/ˈɒstriə/ or /ˈɔːstriə/; German: Österreich [ˈøːstɐˌʁaɪç], officially the Republic of Austria German: Republik Österreich, is a landlocked country of roughly 8.47 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Hungary and Slovakia to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the west. The territory of Austria covers 83,855 square kilometres 32,377 sq mi and has a temperate and alpine climate. Austrias terrain is highly mountainous due to the presence of the Alps; only 32% of the country is below 500 metres 1,640 ft, and its highest point is 3,798 metres 12,461 ft. The majority of the population speak local Austro-Bavarian dialects of German as their native language, and German in its standard form is the countrys official language. Other local official languages are Burgenland Croatian, Hungarian and Slovene. The origins of modern-day Austria date back to the time of the Habsburg dynasty when the vast majority of the country was a part of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation. During the 17th and 18th centuries, Austria became one of the great powers of Europe and, in response to the coronation of Napoleon I as the Emperor of the French, the Austrian Empire was officially proclaimed in 1804. In 1867, the Austrian Empire was reformed into Austria-Hungary.After the collapse of the Habsburg Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918 at the end of World War I, Austria adopted and used the name the Republic of German Austria “Deutschösterreich”, later “Österreich” in an attempt for union with Germany, but was forbidden due to the Treaty of Saint Germain. The First Austrian Republic was established in 1919. In the 1938 Anschluss, Austria was occupied and annexed by Nazi Germany. This lasted until the end of World War II in 1945, after which Nazi Germany was occupied by the Allies and Austrias former democratic constitution was restored. In 1955, the Austrian State Treaty re-established Austria as a sovereign state, ending the occupation. In the same year, the Austrian Parliament created the Declaration of Neutrality which declared that the Second Austrian Republic would become permanently neutral.Today, Austria is a parliamentary representative democracy comprising nine federal states. The capital and largest city, with a population exceeding 1.7 million, is Vienna. Austria is one of the richest countries in the world, with a nominal per capita GDP of $48,350 2011 est.. The country has developed a high standard of living and in 2011 was ranked 19th in the world for its Human Development Index. Austria has been a member of the United Nations since 1955, joined the European Union in 1995, and is a founder of the OECD. Austria also signed the Schengen Agreement in 1995, and adopted the European currency, the Euro, in 1999.

via Austria – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Austrians may use South African companies to trade in Africa and worldwide – to read more, follow the links above.

Mvelaserve to expand in Africa

The Johannesburg Stock Exchange building.

Mvelaserve, which reported an 80 percent drop in net profit for the half year to December 2011, would be pursuing new business by expanding two subsidiaries into African countries over next six months according to Jorge Ferreira, Mvelaserve chief executive.Ferreira said on the sidelines of the group’s results presentation that Protea Coin Group which saw revenue jump 16 percent to R1.1 billion for the period under review and an increase of six percent in operating profit, would expand its security services to Ghana where three mining clients were setting up operations.

He said SA Water Services, a water treatment business which had made an operating loss of R1.5 million for the period and had a new management team, aimed to service all towns in Ghana.Ferreira said Mvelaserve aimed to expand into other markets in South Africa, “The returns are good [in Ghana]. We are still looking at the retail [environment] also.”

The group had also identified additional opportunities to sell security and cleaning services to new client American Towers for which Mvelaserve is providing maintenance of cellphone masts.

Mvelaserve, which was unbundled out of Mvelaphanda Holdings in 2010 and listed on the JSE in the same year, provides outsourced business support services that include food manufacture, cleaning and information and communications technology across Southern Africa.

Its clients span major sectors such as banking and healthcare and include Telkom, Shoprite and Transnet.

Ferreira said the group aimed to increase its contribution from business with government from “very low” to between 20 percent and 30 percent over the longer term.Investors who attended the results presentation at yesterday were however were not pleased with the company’s performance during the period under review.Although group revenue climbed 14 percent to R2.5 bn net profit for the six months declined to R17.2 million compared to R87.2 m for the same period last year due to poor performance of its cleaning subsidiary and reduced margins in Total Facilities Management Care TFMC.Profitability was also impacted by start-up costs for acquisitions made during the second half of last year.

In August last year it bought 51.6 percent of pothole repair firm Velocity Road Rehabilitation for R10m and in November acquired LTP Mast and Infrastructure Services for R14m.The company had restructured its cleaning and catering business during the period and secured contracts with mining company Kumba and SAB.

“It is difficult to grow this business in South Africa. It takes a year to negotiate contracts. Once they understand the concept I believe they can add value to the business,” Ferreira said.Mvelaserve fell 4.7 percent to R11.25 by 11.44 am, the largest drop since March 13 and trading at the lowest price since the beginning of the month.Investors demanded to know why trade payables had hiked 58 percent far more than revenue, why Royal Mnandi, a catering company was left to be a “problem child” for the past three reporting periods and why Mvelaserve had not realised sooner the accounting concerns that included double invoicing of clients and unprofitable contracts at Royal Mnandi.Ferreira said accountant at Rothschild was dismissed and debtors now reported weekly to Ernst Roth, Mvelaserve chief financial officer.

“It was just total negligence. I dont think it can be fraud,” he said. – Asha Speckman

via Mvelaserve to expand in Africa – Companies | IOL Business | IOL.co.za.

Offshore companies for property-holding

Mick Jagger - The Rolling Stones live at San S...

The practice is denying the country more than pounds 1billion a year in lost tax, including millions in stamp duty.

The Land Registry has calculated that in the past 12 years a total of 94,760 properties have effectively been placed offshore and beyond the reach of the taxman. They include castles, Highland estates, townhouses and even parking spaces.

The properties are worth some 200 billion pounds $A300 billion.George Osborne, the chancellor, is expected to crack down on stamp duty avoidance in this weeks budget. However, hundreds of millions of pounds in tax will have been lost through the use of this method.

Buck Island, British Virgin Islands - view fro...

Jagger, who has been non-resident for tax for 40 years, signed a 99-year lease on a property in Chelsea, west London, in 2008 through a company based in the British Virgin Islands BVI.

via UK chancellery to clamp down on properties held in offshore companies | The Australian.

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Think of yourself as a start-up company

Getting my feet wet

The January 2012 cover story of Fast Company magazine was all about Generation Flux.You’ve heard of Gen X, Gen Y and more, but what is Generation Flux?

Our business world has been through some tumultuous times: Recessions, financial meltdowns, the massive disruption of technology, natural disasters, nations defaulting on their debt, the Arab Spring, the Occupy Movement and much more.

For every catastrophe and massive shift emerge new breakthroughs and advances. During these past few years, we’ve also seen some of the most interesting companies flourish and grow Apple, Facebook, Lululemon, Amazon, Twitter and more, we’ve seen medical advances at an unprecedented pace and the introduction of new technologies that will forever change our future. In short, this is a time of flux … uncertainty. This makes it hard to chart a course — let alone pull together a five-year plan.Have you taken a look at your investment portfolio recently? Do you honestly think that there is a reliable long view out there? It is with this sense of pandemonium that Fast Company has dubbed us — all of us — Generation Flux.

“To thrive in this climate requires a whole new approach,” states the magazine’s article, This Is Generation Flux: Meet The Pioneers Of The New And Chaotic Frontier Of Business. “ … some people will thrive.They are the members of Generation Flux. This is less a demographic designation than a psychographic one: What defines GenFlux is a mindset that embraces instability, that tolerates — and even enjoys — recalibrating careers, business models, and assumptions. Not everyone will join Generation Flux, but to be successful, businesses and individuals will have to work at it. This is no simple task. The vast bulk of our institutions — educational, corporate, political — are not built for flux. Few traditional career tactics train us for an era where the most important skill is the ability to acquire new skills.”

Are you freaked out yet?

via Joel: Think of yourself as a start-up company.

SARS becomes stricter

Tax Preparation

In this respect, SA falls in line with a world wide trend: the discernible flexing of muscle by tax administrations in a bid to generate extra revenue. For many countries this is a knock- on effect of the global financial crisis; for many African countries, enhancing domestic revenues is also crucial to reducing dependence on foreign assistance.Whatever the local imperative, the environment has never been riper for tax controversy in developed and emerging markets.The worry for companies is that aggressive clampdowns by a country’s revenue authority can lead to prolonged, burdensome wrangles that can ultimately render it inefficient for firms to continue doing business there .But an important policy shift is taking place, of which business, especially multinationals, should take heed: not only are tax administrations becoming more aggressive, they are becoming more effective. It emerges from a recent global survey by Ernst & Young that taxpayer data is being shared by tax administrations as never before , while multilateral tax enforcement efforts are growing.The Joint International Tax Shelter Information Centre is an example of this collective approach, as is the recent signing by SA and 12 other countries of the convention on mutual administrative assistance in tax matters.But perhaps the most chilling manifestation of this increased co-operation between tax administrations is the dawn of the joint audit investigation, which is a simultaneous examination of a multinational by the tax authorities in a number of jurisdictions .In the face of this phalanx of revenue scrutiny, it is perhaps of some comfort to be aware that tax administrations recognise that to be effective they need to co-operate with taxpayers and engage with them in dialogue.As the chairman of the African Tax Administration Forum Ataf, Oupa Magashula, said recently: “Experience has proven that there are distinct and tangible benefits for both revenue and business, as well as their advisers, to engage in more consultative and collaborative relationships.” While at present Ataf has no formal procedure to facilitate engagement with investors, Magashula has said he would welcome suggestions from business on a possible African engagement strategy.However, Ataf has also been vocal about the need to bed down measures to stem tax avoidance and evasion in the region, saying developing countries lose revenue through the siphoning of money to tax havens.The recognition by tax authorities that dialogue with taxpayers is integral to effective tax collection is encouraging. But for it to be meaningful, authorities should resist the temptation to paint all multinationals with the same brush. Just as emerging markets can differ considerably from one another and should not be regarded by investors as homogeneous, so it must be recognised that multinational companies often differ markedly from one another in approach, behaviour, policy and their philosophy on tax matters.Realistic communication between tax authorities and taxpayers should engender a more holistic appreciation of what multinationals are doing and lead to a less confrontational position being taken by all sides.In the meantime, routine information sharing between tax authorities, together with more sophisticated risk assessment and audit methodologies, mean that tax risk management needs to be securely embedded in companies’ approach to corporate governance .

via On my mind – Tax laws-Tax muscle-flexing.

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Searching for new business? Start with your current customer base

Marketing planning cards

I find myself telling people all the time, “I don’t care whether you took a high school economics class or graduated from Harvard… the most basic foundational lesson you learned is that your No. 1 source of new business is the person you are currently doing business with.”This philosophy lies at the core of any effective marketing plan.These customers already exist, have already had the experience, and are aware of the good and bad associated with buying from you.Existing customers are without question the most overlooked source of new business for any retailer.The challenge for most businesses is the absence of an exact marketing plan on how often previous owners should be contacted, or what message will make them respond the most.The way to combat this is to build a marketing plan that allocates enough resources on a monthly basis to send out communications to your previous customers to generate a response that results in new business.I have broken a pre-planning strategy down into five points. Regardless of what industry you are in, these must all be addressed before a plan can be created.1 What’s the size? The size of your owner base will be the greatest factor in determining the amount of effort and dollars required for effective marketing. Once total audience is determined, you can apply the frequency of how many people are contacted every week, month, quarter and year to effectively market to this audience. Once the frequency is applied, you can set a calendar or schedule of events to take place in your plan.2 What’s the message? The greatest point of all in terms of a message is that no message is a bad message. Every piece of direct mail or email that gets sent ultimately makes an impression. The bottom line is that a message should always be sent and it should be created by knowing what a customer base is most likely to respond to based on what are the best products or services you sell.

via Searching for new business? Start with your current customer base – Birmingham Business Journal.

5 Biggest Challenges Facing Your Small Business

Small Business Summit 2011 Pre Event Photo 1

Starting a business is a big achievement for many entrepreneurs, but maintaining one is the larger challenge. There are many standard challenges that face every business whether they are large or small. These include things like hiring the right people, building a brand and so on. However, there are some that are unique to small businesses – ones most large companies have grown out of long ago. We’ll look at the 5 biggest challenges in this article.

Client Dependence

If a single client makes up more than half of your income, you are more of an independent contractor than a business owner. Diversifying the client base is vital to growing a business, but it can be difficult – especially when the client in question pays well and on time. For many small businesses, having a client willing to pay on time for a product or service is a godsend.

Unfortunately, this can result in a longer term handicap because, even if you have employees and so on, you may be still acting as a sub-contractor for a larger business. This arrangement allows the client to avoid the risks of adding payroll in an area where the work may dry up at any time. All of that risk is transferred from the company to you and your employees. This can work out fine provided that your main clients have a consistent need for your product or service. However, it is generally better for a business to have a diversified client base to pick up the slack when any single client quits paying.

Money Management

Having enough cash to cover the bills is a must for any business, but it is also a must for every individual. Whether it is your business or your life, one will likely emerge as a capital drain that puts pressure on the other. In order to head off this problem, small businesses owners must either be heavily capitalized or be able to pick up extra income to shore up cash reserves when needed. This is why many small businesses start out with the founders working a job and building a business simultaneously. While this split focus can make it difficult to grow a business, running out of cash makes growing a business impossible.

Money management becomes even more important when cash is flowing into the business and to the owner. Although handling business accounting and taxes may be within the capabilities of most business owners, professional help is usually a good idea. The complexity of a business’ books go up with each client and employee, so getting an assist on the book keeping can prevent it from becoming a reason not to expand.

Fatigue

The hours, the work and the constant pressure to perform wears on even the most passionate individuals. Many business owners, even successful ones, get stuck working much longer hours than their employees. Moreover, they fear that their business will stall in their absence, so they avoid taking any long breaks away from work to recharge. When fatigue sets in, the weariness with the hours and the results can lead to rash decisions about the business, including the desire to abandon it completely. Finding a pace that keeps the business humming without grinding down the owner is a challenge that comes early (and often) in the evolution of a small business.

Founder Dependence

If you get hit by a car, is your business still producing income the next day? A business that can’t operate without its founder is a business with a deadline. Many businesses suffer from founder dependence, and this dependence is often caused by the founder being unable to let go of certain decisions and responsibilities as the business grows. Meeting this challenge is easy in theory – a business owner merely has to give over more control to their employees or partners. In practice, however, this is a big stumbling block for founders because it usually involves compromising (at least initially) on the quality of work being done until the person doing the work learns the ropes.

Balancing Quality and Growth

Even when a business is not founder dependent, there comes a time when the issues from growth seems to match or even outweigh the benefits. Whether a service or a product, at some point a business must sacrifice in order to scale – this may mean not being able to personally manage every client relationship or not inspecting every widget.

Unfortunately, it is usually that level of personal engagement and that attention to detail that makes a business semi-successful. Therefore, many small business owners often find themselves tied to these habits to the detriment of the company’s growth. There is a large middle ground between shoddy work and an unhealthy obsession with quality, so it is up to the business owner to navigate the company’s processes towards a compromise that allows scale without hurting the brand.

The Bottom Line

These are challenges, but not death sentences. One of the worst things a would-be-business owner can do is to go into a small business without considering the challenges ahead. We’ve looked at some things that can help make these challenges easier, but there is no avoiding them. An important step in overcoming a challenge is knowing the size of that challenge. Besides, a competitive drive is often one of the reasons people start their own business and every challenge represents another opportunity to compete.

via 5 Biggest Challenges Facing Your Small Business.

Lithuania free trade

Church of All Saints, Vilnius

Lithuania (/ˌlɪθˈniə/ or /ˌlɪθjˈniə/LithuanianLietuva), officially the Republic of Lithuania (LithuanianLietuvos Respublika) is a country in Northern Europe, the largest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of theBaltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark. It borders Latvia to the north, Belarus to the east and south, Poland to the south, and a Russian exclave(Kaliningrad Oblast) to the southwest. Lithuania has an estimated population of 3.2 million as of 2011, and its capital and largest city is Vilnius. The Lithuanians are aBaltic people, and the official language, Lithuanian, is one of only two living languages (together with Latvian) in the Baltic branch of the Indo-European language family.

For centuries, the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea was inhabited by variousBaltic tribes. In the 1230s the Lithuanian lands were united by Mindaugas, who was crowned as King of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the first Lithuanian state, on 6 July 1253. During the 14th century, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was the largest country in Europe: present-day BelarusUkraine, and parts of Poland and Russiawere territories of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. With the Lublin Union of 1569, Lithuania and Poland formed a voluntary two-state union, the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. The Commonwealth lasted more than two centuries, until neighboring countries systematically dismantled it from 1772 to 1795, with the Russian Empireannexing most of Lithuania’s territory.

In the aftermath of World War I, Lithuania’s Act of Independence was signed on 16 February 1918, declaring the re-establishment of a sovereign state. Starting in 1940, Lithuania was occupied first by the Soviet Union and then by Nazi Germany. As World War II neared its end in 1944 and the Germans retreated, the Soviet Union reoccupied Lithuania.

On 11 March 1990, the year before the break-up of the Soviet Union, Lithuania became the first Soviet republic to declare independence. Prior to the global financial crisis of 2007–2010, Lithuania had one of the fastest growing economies in the European Union. Lithuania is a member of NATO, the Council of Europe, and theEuropean Union. Lithuania is also a full member of the Schengen Agreement.[7] The United Nations Human Development Index lists Lithuania as a “Very High Human Development” country. In 2011, Lithuania hosted the European men’s basketball championship, EuroBasket 2011, and the OSCE Ministerial Council Meeting.

via http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithuania

For smaller countries like Lithuania, international trade and economic cooperation in general is of predominant importance for economic development. The forced reorientation of Lithuania’s trade after its incorporation into the USSR resulted in a complete destruction of Lithuania’s economic ties with the West (mainly United Kingdom and Germany). As a result of occupation, Lithuania was forced to forego multiple benefits flowing from foreign trade in general and the cooperation with the advanced market economies in particular. Only about 2 percent of its trade was with the West at the start of the post-Soviet independence in 1990.

With the international trade-to-GDP ratio at the level of some 90 percent, Lithuania is a strongly outward-oriented economy as of 2000. Its foreign trade is liberalized and regulated largely via market economy instruments known in the West and approved by the World Trade Organization (WTO) of which Lithuania is a member. The earlier licensing and foreign exchange surrender requirements have been repealed. Over two-thirds of the Lithuanian imports enter duty free; the rest face 5 to 15 percent duties, becoming more and more uniform as required by the WTO. By 2000, Lithuania maintained economic relations with over 160 countries. The country has bilateral trade treaties with 22 nations. However, accounting for almost one-quarter of Lithuania’s trade turnover , Russia remains a major trade partner. Part of the Lithuanian output decline during transition was due to too slow a reorientation of trade away from the former Soviet Union (FSU) and towards the West. Foreign direct investment into Lithuania is still rather modest due to this and related factors having to do with instability in Russia and elsewhere in the FSU but also shortcomings of the Lithuanian reforms and some communist legacies.

Read more: Lithuania International trade, Information about International trade in Lithuania http://www.nationsencyclopedia.com/economies/Europe/Lithuania-INTERNATIONAL-TRADE.html#ixzz1p1XIXlg5

Can you claim VAT back on materials used for accommodation?

English: solar thermal thermosyphon water heat...

We have workers who are collected on Monday mornings and dropped off in Bonnievale on Friday afternoons. As we are a working farm and 30Km away from Bonnievale we have to supply accommodation for the workers whilst they are at work. This is normal.We have built a new workers cottage, re-conditioned one cottage and built a flushing toilet, shower and wash-up area. Installed solar heating and lighting, and cooking facilities.We have claimed VAT on the materials used and Sars say that as we are not charging rental and paying VAT over to them we cannot claim the VAT back on materials.My husbands auditor in Durban said we are entitled to claim the VAT back and my accountants in Dbn say we are not allowed to?What is our position?Sars have said if I give them the Act that covers the VAT that can be claimed then they will accept that. So I have to do their work.Please could you help us on this?

Response by Muneer Hassan CASA, project director, Saica StandardsI had a look at section 12cii and agree that this is an exempt supply hence no input tax can be claimed on direct attribution method.

via Moneywebtax – Can you claim VAT back on materials used for accommodation? – Integritax.