Saturday, November 30, 2013

World Bank Ranks South Africa Among Most Tax-Friendly Environments in the World

The latest World Bank Doing Business report shows South Africa continuing to move up the ranking as one of the best business tax environments on the continent.

With the report now in its 11th year, Doing Business 2014: Understanding Regulations for Small and Medium-Size Enterprises analyses the impact of regulations throughout the business lifecycle across 189 jurisdictions, ranking economies on the basis of 10 indicators including ease of starting a business, and paying taxes. Russell Bedford member firms have contributed to each of the report’s Paying Taxes survey since 2009, contributing data on tax regulation, recent reforms, and the real costs of tax compliance worldwide.

While South Africa remains unchanged in 41st place worldwide for overall ease of doing business, the total tax burden on businesses is lower than that of its other African peers. Moving up two places to 24th worldwide, South Africa's tax environment is now more business-friendly than that of Cyprus, Iceland, the Netherlands and Sweden. With the total tax take reduced over the past year from 32.7 per cent to 30.1, the country remains ahead of the OECD average of 41.3 per cent, and substantially ahead of the Sub-Saharan average of 53.3 per cent.

Nick Reed, managing partner of Russell Bedford member firm Watermark Auditors Incorporated commented: "This year’s report is encouraging – the reduction in the total tax take, in particular. But there are no grounds for complacency, and new legislation next year (specifically regarding National Health Insurance and the potential introduction of carbon taxes) could have significant impacts for business.”

For more information about the World Bank's Doing Business reports, please visit

About Russell Bedford International

Established in 1983, Russell Bedford International is a global network of independent firms of accountants, auditors, tax advisers and business consultants. Ranked amongst the world’s leading accounting and audit networks, Russell Bedford is represented by some 460 partners, 5000 staff and 280 offices in more than 90 countries in Europe, the Americas, the Middle East, Africa and Asia-Pacific. Russell Bedford International is a member of the IFAC Forum of Firms and a member of EGIAN, the European Group of International Accounting Networks and Associations.


Kempton Bedell-Harper
Russell Bedford International
T: +44 20 7410 0339

Nick Reed
Watermark Auditors Incorporated
T: +27 11 705 0000

London, United Kingdom, November 29, 2013 --(

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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Africa trading less and less with Africa, research finds


Africa has the lowest internal trade volume compared to other trading blocs in EuropeAsia and Latin America according to findings of four different research studies.
Presenting their research papers at the African Economic Conference, which is taking place in Johannesburg from October 28-30, four researchers from across Africa and one from Asia concluded that that trade within Africa was very low and its participation in the global trade negligible and fragmented. The papers were presented during a session entitled “Gravity Model Approach and Trade Potential.”
Edris Seid, a Research Fellow of the Social Policy Institute in Ethiopia, said intra-Africa trade is less than five per cent. Trade within Africa has not grown despite having many Regional Economic Communities (RECs).
According to the findings of his study, using the Gravity Model Approach looked at four RECs – the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA), Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS), and Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) – trade in Africa has remained staggeringly low and the performance of RECs varying, but generally disappointing. “SADC and ECOWAS have created trade in the ‘Vinerian' sense; COMESA has an implausibly negative coefficient suggesting that it has not expanded trade among the member states. Whereas IGAD has an insignificant positive coefficient implying that it has not contributed to the expansion of intra-regional trade,” the research concluded.
Research by PhD Student Mouhamed Njikam from the University of Yaoundé, Cameroon, concluded that intra-Africa trade was low, outward looking, primary-commodity based and undiversified.
According to his findings, the ECOWAS region has the lowest intra-trade volume standing at one per cent – 10 times lower than that of the continent and other RECs. He concluded that the region held greater trade potential if it addresses infrastructure and legislation issues.
Meanwhile, research by Dr. Albert Makochekana of the University of Zimbabwe found that improvements in port efficiency and increased use of e-business are some of the factors which boost intra-SADC trade in exports. “Whilst the positive influence of each of these two variables differs between exporting countries and importing countries, the fact remains that SADC policymakers should implement strategies which improve port efficiency and also encourage use of e-business.”
The research also looked at country-specific trade potential with other countries in the region. The simulations showed mixed results, some countries had exhausted their trade potentials, while others were shown as having untapped trade potentials. Exhaustion of trade potential does not imply that these countries should not trade, but that it may be difficult to increase the levels of trade between such trading partners.
Makochekana also observed that that although tariff rates had significantly reduced in SADC, non-tariff barriers had taken centre stage and negatively affected the trade environment in the region.
The research findings, including that of Atif Moheeldeein of Malaysia National University, conclude thatAfrica is trading less and less with itself and suggest policy and structural transformation, including investment in physical infrastructure to link neighbouring countries, harmonize trade policies, and simplify custom procedures so that the existing regional economic communities would promote intra-regional trade.

The annual African Economic Conference is jointly organized by the African Development Bank, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and the United Nations Development Programme.

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President Obama's Fatherhood and Mentoring Initiative to be hosted by select local barbershops

      ~ Select Local Barbershops to Host Events and Provide Fathers with Parenting Resources ~

Washington, DC ( -- As part of President Obama’s Fatherhood and Mentoring Initiative, The National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse (NRFC), funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families, Office of Family Assistance will team up with community agencies and barbershops across the country as part of Fatherhood Buzz to provide fathers with key tips, information and strategies that focus on men’s health. Barbershops, which serve as unofficial outlets for peer education in many communities, were chosen as the trusted hub to share information about fatherhood and the essential role that fathers play in society. Events will include national and local resources for fathers, including handouts on health and wellness, parenting tips, networking, and positive conversations.
On average, men live five years less than women – with heart disease as the leading cause of death. Fatherhood Buzz events will encourage fathers to treat their health as part of their commitment to being a responsible father. Fathers who model a healthy lifestyle can have a powerful and positive impact on the development and health of their children. In fact, studies have found that children who have actively engaged fathers are more likely to have good physical and emotional health, to achieve academically, and avoid drugs, violence, and delinquent behavior.
"The three ways you can be a responsible father and man is by eating right, getting exercise and getting regular preventive health screenings," says Kenneth Braswell, Director, National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse (NRFC). "We are doing this outreach through barbershops to ensure that men, especially fathers, know about the importance of their health for themselves and their families."
Encouraging health among fathers through conversations is just one topic in a series of topics sponsored by NRFC being used to strengthen fathers and families through barbershops across the country.
President Obama’s Fatherhood Initiative’s Fatherhood Buzz is a pilot program of The National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse (NRFC) - an established, national and international resource for fathers, practitioners, researchers, and policymakers. A service of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families' (ACF) Office of Family Assistance, NRFC develops and collects information about policies, priorities, trends, research findings, and promising fatherhood practices. The NRFC disseminates that knowledge to practitioners and the fatherhood field to support well-being and economic self-sufficiency outcomes for fathers, children, families, and communities. 

For more information, call 1(877) 4DAD-411 or visit
For the listing of the community partners and barbershops, visit

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Thursday, November 7, 2013

Is there ever a time when is a Parent – Child relationship too close? When Is Close Too Close?

Is there ever a time when is a Parent – Child relationship too close?

me_kids_Mothers Day 2011

What does that mean? If you spend time with your son or daughter or talk on the phone daily, is that too close? Does your close relationship interfere with your ability to parent that child? If the lines are blurred, meaning you such good friends, that you can’t give well-deserved consequences for misbehaving, then YES, you are probably too close.

I believe that teenagers and parents can’t be friends because when you need to discipline them or expect them to follow your rules, because they won’t understand how you’ve switched from friend to parent and may not obey you. On the other hand, if you are an aloof parent – the kind that just administers rules and won’t allow a close relationship to develop between you and your tween or teen, how do they learn that important skill of allowing others to be close to them?

However, what happens when your child becomes an adult and a real friendship develops? How much sharing is too much? Can you go out together and drink socially? Can you share the disappointments that you are experiencing in your own life? How do you maintain those relationships in a friendly way and yet not get hurt, the way adults do when one ‘friend’ feels differently or doesn’t respond in a way that you expect? We recently had a social event, and one of my friends, (she’s 40ish), told me that she asked her mother not to attend, so she could comfortably go and ‘have fun’. I had a completely different experience with my mother. Once I went away to school, we became friends and it was not uncommon to come home during break and be part of one my Mom’s famous parties. We’d have a blast!

So share your experiences with your mother. Email me at:

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Phil Rowlands Blog: Kindle Authors (password: childsplay)
Christie Edwards Blog: Living Simplistically

C. Lynn Williams, #MsParentguru

Author & Parent Coach

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Trying to Stay Sane While Raising Your Teen (St. Paul Press, 2010)
The Pampered Prince: Moms Create a GREAT Relationship with Your Son (St. Paul Press, 2012)
Raising Your Daughter Through the Joys, Tears & HORMONES! (220 Communications, 2013)

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