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I trust this finds you exceptionally well as we are into the final stretch. Christmas and “the Great South African Shut-down” is almost upon us. I hear from reliable sources (Computicket – and they should know) that Boney M is actually going to be in South Africa in person – so one can hear it in the malls and in the flesh should you so choose. As has been mentioned, it is time to put the finishing touches to planning the year-end shut-down so please ensure that leave has been scheduled and cash

Before we look at the way the world has moved in the last month, do you think we need a law that makes it illegal to push a moose out of a moving aircraft’ Europe remains a train-crash in slow motion with a new exciting variation on exactly the same theme taking place each month – i.e. a lot of money is owed, there are many structural deficiencies, we’re not sure how to deal with this so we’re going to talk about it a lot, not solve the problem and see what happens. The problem is, and remains, that there isn’t enough money to pay. So, someone is going to (and the banks have) taken a bath. Whether the bath is big enough and long enough and the banks can afford the bath is a moot point. I’m sure you must be tired of reading my take on it – please see below Grant Williams (an American who is somewhat anti-Europe – this will become apparent in short order):  “So what do we have for you this week’ Well, naturally, there’s a whole lotta Europe including warnings of a French downgrade from top economists, warnings of a ‘downgrade blitz’ across the EMU from S&P and a warning for Mario Draghi as he prepares to take the crown from Jean-Claude Trichet’s greying head in a little over a week.

Millions of Euros spent on days of ‘talks’ to come up with solutions that fail to address any REAL problems.

Don’t believe me? Article 47 of the Common Fisheries Policy will ensure that every fish caught by an angler is notified to Brussels so that it can be counted against that countries quota. If you go out for a days fishing and catch a couple of cod or mackerel you will now be required to notify the authorities or face a heavy fine.

There are EU regulations on the greenness of the person on the pedestrian crossing lights.

There are 3 separate EU directives on the loudness of lawnmowers.

Regulation (EC) 2257/94 – a great read, by the way – stated that bananas must be ‘free from malformation or abnormal curvature of the fingers’. It also contained stipulations about ‘the grade, i.e. the measurement, in millimetres, of the thickness of a transverse section of the fruit between the lateral faces and the middle, perpendicularly to the longitudinal axis’ …

And then there are cucumbers: Under regulation (EEC) No 1677/88 cucumbers are only allowed a bend of 10mm for every 10cm of length.
Do you think any of those were drawn up in 10 minutes on a single piece of paper’? No. People formed committees that spent time and money devising these regulations. (Actually, in fairness to Europe, they don’t have a monopoly on silly legislation: there IS a law in Alaska that makes it illegal to push a moose out of a moving aircraft.)”

If one looks at the way that the “developed” world has got ahead of themselves it does boggle the mind. I will say no more although I can vouchsafe that the bananas that are for sale in the UK and Europe are eerily straight (how does a farmer train his bananas to grow straight and not bent’) compared to our local home-grown SA ones.

South Africans as a nation should be seizing this opportunity, making world inroads and improving our marketability and international perception as a destination. This isunfortunately NOT happening as the powers that be seem to be fixated on dividing the cake or stealing the cake before the cake has actually been baked.

Add in a Dalai Lama visa debacle, a Malema, a Shiceka, a president who takes nearly six weeks to apply his mind to the top cop malfeasance case while spending four hundred million Rand renovating his residences, it is no wonder that South Africa is slipping down the preferred investment destination ladder.

With regards to the ongoing disaster/ national embarrassment that is the CIPC (replacement body to the truly awful CIPRO), last month I believed that there might be some improvement, but it turns out there wasn’t. An application to de-register a company lodged on 31 May 2011 was ACKNOWLEDGED by mail received from the CIPC on 26 October 2011. Nearly five months to acknowledge. It does provide thousands of hours of billable work (at taxpayer expense for their spin-doctors) on how wonderful they are. Anything remotely CIPC related, please expect a challenge.

As was mentioned for quite some time now, due to the change by SARS to self assessment, a goodly number of their hitherto processing staff have been promoted to auditors and the number of investigations/ audits performed has increased from some forty five thousand (45,000) per annum in 2007 to one hundred and fifty thousand per annum (150,000) in 2010/11. Effectively the focus is on bigger numbers but we are finding that persons/ entities all across the spectrum are being audited – PAYE/ VAT and Income tax. This has meant that in the “good old days” taxpayers chances of an audit were (say) 1 in 60. They are now, down to about 1 in 15. There is now insurance available from QDos Consulting to cover costs relating to SARS audits. SARS audits, in our experience, often have no relation to the amount of the tax amount involved and SARS can decide to audit without supplying a reason. We had a client where the audit started in March 2011 and was SUCCESSFULLY concluded (i.e. SARS were wrong) on 25 October 2011. The amount in question was three hundred and fifty six Rand and seventy five cents (R356.75). The issue at hand is that one cannot “stop” the audit by saying – fine, don’t worry about it – keep the bloody money. In this case, SARS denied a deduction which was on the tax return and wanted to fine the client an exorbitant amount for falsification of her tax return. They also refused to pay her current refund out whilst the audit was in progress. So one has to grit (sic) and bear it. Months of everyone’s lives and much money wasted. And, having proved that they were wrong, they simply say: “Here’s your money then.” Cold comfort for the taxpayer.

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