It is arguably the most prevalent health problem. It costs employers in lower productivity and higher healthcare expenditures. It negatively affects job functioning, safety, and wellbeing, and aggravates other health conditions. It is, however, often overlooked, underestimated, and under treated.

It is insomnia, and it’s estimated to affect almost a third of all adults. Attributable costs are believed to be more than $100 billion a year in the United States. It is a growing problem: As the population in the United States becomes older, the prevalence of insomnia among the elderly—and the problems that result from it—become a growing concern.

Defining insomnia

Most people will define insomnia as the inability to fall asleep. That is correct, to a point. Insomnia typically involves one or more of the following symptoms: difficulty initiating sleep; difficulty remaining asleep; waking up too early in the morning, or chronically poor quality, non-restorative sleep.

In order to be classified as insomnia, these sleep difficulties must persist despite ample opportunity and circumstance for sleep, and result in daytime impairment.

There are many causes of insomnia, from lifestyle factors to neurological disorders. Quite often there is an initial cause, like chronic pain or life stress, but perpetuating factors such as poor lifestyle choices or negative thoughts create a vicious cycle, which transform an acute problem into a more chronic one.

Considering that rest is one of the body’s restorative functions; insomnia has a profound effect on overall health and wellbeing. Insomnia is associated with poor outcomes across many medical problems. Conversely, successful treatment of insomnia can improve outcomes from other medical conditions.

Related health conditions

Obesity is one of many health conditions with which insomnia is associated. Obesity is related to higher incidences of sleep apnea and other respiratory problems which can exacerbate insomnia. It has been reported that 38 percent of people with body mass index considered “obese” and 44 percent of those considered “extremely obese” sleep six or fewer hours a night.

Research has indicated that medical patients with insomnia had higher rates of disability and were hospitalized twice as frequently as those without sleep problems.  Insomniac adults visited physician offices more frequently and took more medications. They also reported higher incidences of depression and other medical disorders. Older adults with insomnia fall more frequently, and are more likely to require nursing home placement.

Bottom line implications

While the impact of insomnia on health is well recognized, what is often overlooked is its cost to employers, who shoulder a dual economic burden associated with chronic health conditions, in that they pay for both lowered productivity and higher healthcare costs.

It is not just absenteeism or disability leaves that negatively affect a company’s bottom line, but also presenteeism, the diminished performance of a worker on the job. The Work Productivity Activity Impairment questionnaire  reported the average productivity impairment of more than 197,000 people who sleep six hours per night or less is more than 12 percent, compared with those who sleep seven or eight hours per night, who have a  level of impairment of around eight percent.

What does this mean to the bottom line? For an employee with a salary of $50,000, this translates into more than $2,000 in lost productivity a year. For a company with 10,000 employees and a 30 percent rate of insomnia (the population average) this would result in a productivity loss of about $6 million per year.

When it comes to healthcare costs, the price is steep as well. Sleeping problems rank fifth among chronic conditions in total annual cost.


For such an expensive and prevalent problem, most sufferers receive no medical help at all, opting for self-medication with OTC products or alcohol. That’s unfortunate as a report from the National Institutes of Health has indicated that cognitive-behavior therapy (CBT) and one class of medications (benzodiazepine receptor antagonists) have been proven to be effective treatments for insomnia.

The short term use of benzodiazepine receptor antagonists has produced improvements in sleep latency (the time to fall asleep initially); wakefulness during the night; number of awakenings; sleep duration and ratings of sleep quality.

While the newer classes of medications are much safer and less addictive than the drugs commonly used in the past, there are still concerns with side effects, medication interactions, and abuse and dependence.

These sleep medications are most appropriate for acute and transient insomnia and for immediate relief. Medication may also be the treatment of choice if unstable medical and/or psychiatric conditions are present, if there is a strong patient preference for it, and/or if CBT is not available.

For long term, effective treatment of insomnia, CBT offers strategies to combat the vicious cycle associated with chronic insomnia. This treatment focuses on reducing anticipatory anxiety, modifying attitudes about sleep, altering the sleep schedule, and teaching new sleep habits.

Research has found CBT to produce moderate to large improvements in all aspects of insomnia. An analysis of outcome studies comparing CBT with medication found that while improvements are more rapid for medication, they are more durable with CBT, with treatment gains persisting for up to two years. Moreover, CBT has a very low incidence of side effects and is well tolerated by patients.

The drawback to CBT is that a medical doctor or clinical psychologist usually delivers the treatment, which can be costly and potentially inconvenient. Since there are relatively few professionals trained in CBT for insomnia, treatment access may be difficult.

The growing role of the internet in patient self-management provides a unique opportunity to address the insomnia problem. The development of web-based CBT interventions has resulted in programs that can be efficiently and inexpensively deployed to millions of people.

While computer-based programs cannot take the place of one-on-one care with a healthcare professional, their advantages include scalability, consistency, and the ability to be tailored to individual users. Tailored messaging has been shown to be highly effective in changing health-related behaviors.

As CBT for insomnia is relatively straightforward and simple, it translates well into an interactive format. Patients can track their sleep patterns and behaviors online and the program can offer suggestions based on data entered by the individual.

Case studies

One such online program, HealthMedia® Overcoming Insomnia offered by Wellness & Prevention, Inc., uses a standard CBT protocol. Digital health coaching programs are designed to help users learn more effective sleep habits and relaxation techniques, change negative sleep thoughts, create a stable sleep pattern, make lifestyle changes to improve sleep, and reduce daytime stress.

Users have reported an average increase of 45 minutes of sleep per night and improvements in overall sleep quality, as well as greater confidence in their ability to manage insomnia. They also experienced less difficulty staying and falling asleep, along with less anxiety and fatigue.

For employers, there was a significant drop in productivity impairment among those using the program. Prior to using the program, participants reported a productivity impairment of more than 20 percent. That dropped more than five percent points after program use. Given an average employee salary of $50,000, this level of improvement could result in savings of more than $2,745 per employee per year.

One of the most effective ways to deploy a web-based intervention is in conjunction with an online health-risk assessment (HRA), used by the employer or health plan to screen large populations. That screening can be used as a basis for recruiting employees into specific self-management programs, such as those for insomnia.

One U.S. corporation with 30,000 employees offered its workforce a modest incentive to complete an HRA screening, which resulted in high participation. The HRA revealed that 30 percent of employees reported getting six hours or less of sleep per night. These individuals showed a productivity impairment of more than 11 percent, reflecting an estimated $9.4 million loss in productivity across the company associated with sleep loss.

After the company offered the HealthMedia Overcoming Insomnia digital health coaching program to appropriate employees, recruited through email, those who used the program reported significant improvements. As a result, estimated productivity impairment dropped an average of 6.5 percentage points and saved the company $3,250 per employee, based on an average salary of $50,000.


Considering insomnia affects millions of people and is a major source of healthcare costs and productivity losses, it is surprising that employers and healthcare organizations typically do not address it in any systematic way. CBT has been proven to provide significant and lasting improvements in sleep, but relatively few people with insomnia seek or receive professional help.

The proven effectiveness and affordability of web-based programs provide an opportunity to address this gap in services and reduce insomnia’s impact on health and productivity, thus providing a substantial return on investment to health plans and employers.

By Richard Bedrosian, Ph.D

Dr. Bedrosian is Director of Behavioral Health and Solution Development at Wellness & Prevention, Inc., a Johnson & Johnson company. Dr. Bedrosian is a clinical psychologist with more than 35 years experience treating depression, addictions, anxiety disorders, and the aftereffects of childhood trauma or abuse. He is also the author of numerous publications focused on depression, suicide, family dynamics, and related problems, including the 1994 volume, “Treating Family of Origin Problems: A Cognitive Approach”. He received his B.A. in psychology from Brown University, his M.A. in psychology from Assumption College, and his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Miami University. Dr. Bedrosian is also an Associate in Psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.




Launching an online business, or taking an existing business online, requires a new set of skills for anyone who is used to a more traditional bricks-and-mortar retail environment. There are new ways to market, new ways to deliver your product – and new ways to ensure you don’t become the victim of thieves or fraudsters.

Whether you are an experienced online retailer or a relative novice, these are the questions you need to ask and answer to protect yourself from online fraud that could result in product loss or chargebacks:

1.     Is my product physical or virtual?

Delivering a physical object – a book, a camera or a piece of jewellery – carries different risks from delivering a virtual product like music, software or airtime. Only when you understand the risks properly will you be able to develop effective protection. When there’s a physical product to deliver, you have more time and opportunities to check that your buyers are who they say they are.

2.     How easy is my product to resell?

The easier it is to resell, the more tempting a target you will be. Electronic goods are among the most risky: They’re in great demand and their value is high, so they’re quick and lucrative for a fraudster to sell on before you ever discover they were bought with a stolen credit card. Things with lower value or more limited appeal are less vulnerable – it’s harder to sell on a book, a pot or an artwork.

3.     How quickly is my product dispersed?

Fraudsters are attracted to products that are delivered quickly. Airtime, for example, is delivered in seconds, can be easily sold and is in high demand. Someone who buys it with stolen money can afford to sell it below market value, which makes it even easier to get rid of. Gift vouchers suffer from similar vulnerabilities.

4.     Is the product easily transferable?

Is your product tied to a particular identity such as a name, an address, an ID number or a cellphone number? If not, as with the example of airtime above, it can easily be transferred from one person to another, and is another tempting target.

5.     How well can you know your customer?

If you add anonymity of the buyer to a product that is valuable, quickly delivered, transferrable and easy to sell, you have an almost irresistible target. Customers may not like having to register before they can buy on your site, but it’s an essential protection. You may also want to limit the number or value of transaction for a new customer, or create a waiting period. This is also means repeat customers can enjoy extra benefits.

6.     How much risk are you willing to accept?

You can’t eliminate risk – you can only manage. Once you have a good understanding of the risks your online business faces, you need to decide how much you are willing to accept.  Every protection you create will cost money, inconvenience your customers or possibly both, so you can’t just lock it all down: You will need to choose wisely to suit the needs of your own operation.

Answering these questions is not always easy, so you’ll probably need to talk to experts. Your payment services provider should be your first port of call: They’re the ones with the experience, the knowledge and the contacts to advise you on what will work. And if they can’t deliver the advice you need, it may be time to change providers.

By Brendon Williamson, general manager of business development at PayGate 

Paygate is an international payment gateway that simplifies payment and security for online retailers, which can be a very complex part of running a business. Delivering simple, effective online payment services to merchants of all sizes, Paygate has built up solid market leadership in South Africa. Paygate is linked to more than 70 banks in more than 30 countries. It has been processing credit card transactions and providing alternative online payment services securely and reliably since 1999. Paygate’s immediately accessible payment services help businesses stay on top of the continuously evolving world of online payments.

For more information visit 


Please be advised that the Johannesburg office of shop-sa is currently offline due to the theft of power cables in the area. For urgent matters, contact Wendy Dancer on 0829637441.

The Cape Town office, which is linked to the server, is unable to receive or send emails, please use in the interim or call Mercedes Westbrook on 021 7801209.

We hope to rectify the problem in the shortest possible time and will inform you once we are up and running again.


Call centers are getting smarter

There are many companies that long for the days where landlines were still the norm, particularly when it comes to debt collecting. Because landlines were analogue and geographic in nature, which meant that callers had no idea who has ringing and whoever was calling knew or could find the address that landline was attached to, people were simply more likely to answer their phones.



Close to 30 million South Africans regularly use mobile phones, whilst only 5 million own landlines. This has left the majority of the population able to not only travel freely, but to identify callers. The average cellular phone number is also anything but permanent, with average users changing their numbers every 9 months or so.


Needless to say, the days of merely dialling as many numbers as quickly as possible are gone and call centers have be more strategic than ever before.


“Smart diallers have changed the way call centers operate – for the better. Agents are more productive, and actions such as debt collection and sales rates are improving, because of its intelligent approach,” says Jed Hewson, director of 1Stream.


Smart diallers are equipped with different modes, including predictive dialling. “This prevents calls go through to blocked numbers or voicemails from going to the agent, essentially allowing more calls to be placed because they don’t have to field constant dead ends,” Hewson explains. “Power and preview modes can respectively display the script and dial the call, or display the script without dialling to allow the agent in question to prepare. Both have been found to improve productivity.”


The smart predictive mode is crucial to improving “hit rates” in terms of debt collection and sales, Hewson explains. “It’s not about simply dialling numbers, but about dialling at a time when the caller is most likely to pick up, such as a preferred call time provided by the customer, or based on historical reports of interactions,” he says. “It’s not about the phone number, but about the customer record – their various communication channels, their preferences. Smart diallers avoid persistently using the wrong methods of reaching out to customers.”


The smart dialler can issue tasks based on the exact interaction needed. “Let’s say a company has not received payment on a debt and the payment is only overdue by a few days. There is no need to use your most expensive resource – your agents – to chase that payment up with a phone call when an agentless message serving as a reminder to the customer will do. Thereafter, if the reminder was not successful, calls can be scheduled accordingly.”


Functionality such as dialler optimisation can reduce the average waiting time between dialling to less than 4 seconds. This is crucial, says Hewson. “If you expect your agent to make a hundred calls a day, and the wait between calls amounts to 60 seconds or more at a time, you’ve essential wasted close to two hours of time that could have been spent productively.”


Smart diallers, then, can be one of the quickest means of eradicating inefficiencies in a call center environment. “The technology, as part of a hosted solution, can be deployed in a matter of days,” Hewson says. “And as call dodgers become smarter, so should call centers.”

“South African consumers are driving a mobile transacting revolution enabled by a slew of innovative home grown technology companies. Local retailers, brands and agencies are leveraging the power of mobile transactions in clever ways to unlock new revenue streams and boost customer retention.” 

So says Bevan Ducasse, CEO of wiGroup, following the release of the company’s white paper on in-store mobile transacting.

According to the 2013 GSM African Mobile Observatory report, South Africa has just under 60 million mobile phones in use today. “In a population of only 50 million people, it’s reasonably safe to assume that the overwhelming majority of South Africans own a mobile phone. With the explosion of mobile transaction services and apps, and the increasing affordability of smartphones, the challenge today is how retailers can tap into the vast potential for additional revenue, customer retention and innovative marketing campaigns offered by mobile transactions” says Ducasse.


Global market adoption looking healthy

Ducasse says recent success in mobile payment adoption in other markets has been encouraging. “US coffee chain Starbucks developed a mobile payment app that processed $1-billion in transactions in 2013 alone. In China, the value of all mobile payments in 2013 came to $1.6-trillion, a more than 200% increase on the year before. While Africa has traditionally led the adoption of mobile payments and mobile money transfer, clearly the more developed markets are catching on.”

One of the key challenges of driving adoption of in-store mobile transacting has been a lack of uniformity. 

“There’s currently no one wallet or application that can do it all, and we don’t expect there to really ever be one. The reality is a complex and ever-evolving ecosystem that includes customers, retailers, brands, agencies, banks, mobile networks, and local and international app developers. It’s this interplay between these disparate groups that is producing some exciting possibilities for the mobile transacting space in South Africa.”


Creating a new playing field

wiGroup’s open and interoperable, point-of-sale (POS) integrated mobile transaction platform has lowered the barriers to entry for retailers, brands and agencies wishing to add a mobile transacting component to their sales and marketing campaigns. 

“In-store mobile transacting includes mobile vouchers, coupons, loyalty and rewards programmes and direct payments and money transfers. One of the great benefits of a single platform is that all your learnings from one campaign can easily be applied to the next, meaning you stand to improve on redemption rates, customer retention and sales figures during every single campaign. This really leaves marketers and strategists to focus on developing innovative campaigns and new revenue streams that hand them a competitive advantage over other brands.”

Ducasse does warn that the success of any in-store mobile transacting campaign is not only reliant on the technology. “Retailers must ensure that the operations team – including individual store managers – are fully briefed and on board, and that till staff understand how the technology and campaign mechanics work. As we’ve seen with some of our brands and agency clients, customer education also plays a vital role; for this, in-store education campaigns work best. Whatever you do, make it as simple as possible for consumers: if you confuse them, chances are your campaign will fail to achieve its objectives.”

For a copy of the white paper, “In-Store Mobile Transacting: A Playbook for Retailers”, please visit  

Social Media and Recruitment


The tendency to recruit via social media is perhaps not as prevalent in South Africa as in other countries. However, according to MCI Consultants, one of the largest distributors of staffing software in Southern Africa, 58% of organisations use social media to recruit candidates. This is according to a SA HR Recruitment Trend Survey they conducted in 2013, which included the participation of over 1000 HR professionals from across the country.


People have differing views on the value of social media recruitment and the secret is to ensure that as you engage with the different mediums you build a large network of potential candidates.


At Sage VIP specifically, we have been making intensive use of recruiting via social media for more than a year now.


Some points to consider:


Social media is a real time tool

It provides an excellent opportunity for potential candidates to market themselves and to apply online. Connecting with candidates via social media also allows you to build a network of possible workers for the future.


There is a variety of mediums available

This includes mainly Facebook, LinkedIn, Pnet and Careerjunction. In the research study of MCI consultants, they have found that 69% of the organisations use LinkedIn, 18% Facebook, while only 7% use Twitter and Google Plus.


LinkedIn remains an excellent recruitment tool. At Sage VIP we use the medium mainly for the recruitment of specialist positions and to advertise management positions, especially in other African countries, where we do not have a relationship yet with recruitment agencies.


With LinkedIn there are two options available when it comes to advertising vacancies. You can either advertise in LinkedIn’s job function/tool or the HR manager can publish vacancies on their own profile. If the manager then connects with different and relevant groups in the industry, it provides the advertisement with much more visibility. For example, one can connect with other HR managers in Nigeria for the period the job is advertised and it also helps to connect with universities if you are looking for graduates with specific skills.


However to use LinkedIn to its best capacity you need to pay the premium rate to be able to advertise jobs on the LinkedIn advertising portal. This brings in a terrific amount of good calibre candidates.  A substantial benefit of this is that LinkedIn users will visit the site to get daily updates of all jobs available.  Using LinkedIn to headhunt does yield results although you are not guaranteed to find the perfect person.  


Facebook, unfortunately, is not an effective platform for finding the correct skills because people tend to publish more personal information. However, the site does have its own benefits. You can use Facebook to create a company page where you then publish all your ads. You also need to consider if this platform is a tool your company wants to use during the recruitment process and if it will align with your company brand. 


Our organisation does not really use Twitter as a recruitment medium, mainly because it requires constant attention and maintenance. To gain the best advantage on Twitter you can make use of a third party service like JobVine, which is then linked to both your Twitter and LinkedIn accounts.


Perceptions about a potential candidate

Different social media platforms sometimes create different perceptions about a candidate. For example, you might not consider a person based on their Facebook profile, only to find that their LinkedIn profile paints a different picture.


Managers sometimes want to view a candidate’s Facebook profile to gain insight into the individual’s ‘personal brand’. This is something students need to consider. How do you want to portray yourself? How would your character be judged by a stranger viewing your profile?


If your company engages in social media recruitment, it is important to ensure you portray at all times the correct image of your company’s culture on social media. A company’s brand is enhanced through its presence on social media and potential candidates will definitely research your company’s social media pages.


Be creative

HR managers have to be creative and make use of different search techniques in order to find the right person. It takes considerable time and effort to develop this skill.


Always be careful of scammers and hackers, our world is full of them

For example,do not use yourpersonal Facebook profile to advertise positions. A LinkedIn profile is the safer choice as you can specify how candidates can contact you and what personal information you wish to reveal to them.


       By Anja van Beek, HR Director at Sage VIP, a leading supplier of payroll and human resource management solutions in South Africa and Africa


About Sage VIP


Sage VIP is a leading supplier of payroll and human resource management solutions in South Africa and Africa, having a comprehensive African partner network that comprises of 35 African countries.  Sage VIP’s extensive service offering and comprehensive range of products epitomises ease of use, stability and reliability.  The flexibility that the Sage VIP service offering provides is uniquely catered to each client’s company and legislative needs, whether it is an SME or a multinational corporation. 


About Sage


We provide small and medium sized organisations with a range of easy-to-use, secure and efficient business management software and services – from accounting and payroll, to enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management and payments.  Our customers receive continuous advice and support through our global network of local experts to help them solve their business problems, giving them the confidence to achieve their business ambitions.  Formed in 1981, Sage was floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1989 and entered the FTSE 100 in 1999. Sage has over 6 million customers and more than 12,700 employees in 24 countries covering the UK & Ireland, mainland Europe, North America, South Africa, Australia, Asia and Brazil. For further information please visit



The next time you pick up an imported chocolate or a handwash at your local retailer, have a good look at the packaging.

You may not realise it but you could be buying a “parallel imported product” — something that some retailers see as the answer for cash-strapped consumers.

But experts are concerned that the selling of these goods may be hurting local business and are ultimately a burden on the economy.

Parallel imported goods — or grey goods, as they are often referred to — are genuine products imported by resellers from other countries where the brands are sold. They are bought at a cheaper rate there and resold in South Africa.

Take a shrewd electronics retailer, for example. The retailer could go to the United States and take advantage of bulk sales of genuine branded iPads and Kindles.

Even after paying import duties on the items, the retailer could still sell them for less than those sold by authorised distributors. Sounds like a good plan, right?

The kicker is: those iPads weren’t intended for resale in South Africa. So if your screen is faulty, Apple in South Africa doesn’t guarantee it.

Either the resellers will provide the back-up services and guarantees, or as is often the case with fast-moving consumer goods, no one will.

Steven Yeates, a partner in the trademark and litigation department of legal firm Adams & Adams, said grey imports capitalise on the reputations of brands already established by licensed distributors.

“You can understand why a company that has a licence to distribute products in South Africa doesn’t like grey imports. They spend a lot of money marketing, creating demand, distributing, paying for advertising and providing back-up sales.

“They’ve put a lot of effort into it and then somebody else basically comes in and rides on their coat-tails.”

Owen Dean, who has been practising copyright and trademark law in South Africa for more than 40 years, agrees: “I personally think it’s very unfair.”

Dean successfully represented the electronics manufacturer Yamaha, which took action against local electronics store Hi-Fi Corporation in 2005 for importing parallel versions of its products.

“The complainants went to great lengths to show how they had worked very hard to build up the South African image of the brand,” he said. “The parallel imports were [acting as] parasites.”

The Consumer Protection Act requires grey goods to be clearly marked as such. A sticker or sign must indicate that the resellers are not the authorised distributors of the product, that they don’t provide after-sales service and that the licensed distributors of the product in South Africa are not compelled to honour any warranties on the goods.

But, Yeates said, many local resellers are not following this directive.

Because labels are missing or lacked prominence, customers often don’t realise that they are buying grey goods or the implications thereof, he said. Dissatisfied customers then direct their complaints to the obvious source: the licensed distributors.

“There’s a difficulty faced by the distributor,” Dean said. “The distributor might decide to honour the guarantee in order to preserve the brand. He is then faced with the added burden of servicing products that were not provided by him.”

Giving rise to other abuses
So what equates to short-term savings could then translate into bigger costs for the economy, Dean said. “In the short term, it seems beneficial but, in the long run, it’s damaging the brand and gives rise to other abuses, such import duty evasion,” he said. “[And] it muddies the water around preventing counterfeit goods.”

In Yeates’s opinion, “people don’t realise it’s costing the economy money. Consumers are saving money but ultimately I would guess it would start to cost jobs and lower revenue for those companies that are actually investing in South Africa.”

Nevertheless, retailers argue that consumers are saving and that grey imports create healthy competition.

According to Yeates, the practice is becoming “more mainstream”, although the South African Revenue Service has provided no figures to back this up.

If necessary, consumers can lodge a complaint about offending resellers with the National Consumer Commission.

Some parallel imports, such as food and medicines, are subject to additional regulations imposed by the National Regulator for Com­pulsory Specifications.

These products must undergo safety and standards tests before they are sold locally.

In July last year, two Dettol and Domestos products were imported from the United Kingdom without being registered with the regulator or undergoing tests. Both were subsequently pulled from the shelves.

Thalia Holmes is a business reporter for the Mail & Guardian.
Article first appeared in the Mail&Guardian online at


Now in its 8th year, the African Eduweek Expo will take place on the 9th to 11th July 2014.

Having performed extensive market research in the wake of Education Week 2013, the organisers announced its new dates for 2014. One of the most common issues that arose was the difficulty for education professionals to get time off work during the term, and the associated issues with disrupting the school day. The EduWeek Expo has now been moed out of term time and into the school holidays on the 9-11 July.

In the EduWeek Expo you will meet some of the continents and world’s leading product and solution providers. The key focus areas for 2014 are Basic Education, Higher Education, Educational Technology and Inclusive Education. In addition to the Expo there are free Technical Workshops taking place in the theatres on the Expo floor. 

For more information visit


Budget focuses on economic growth

The 2014 Budget focuses on interventions that are aimed at placing the economy on a new growth trajectory.

Government’s primary goal, as expressed in the National Development Plan (NDP), is to raise real economic growth to between 5 and 6 per cent per year. This higher level of economic growth would boost revenue and enable government to increase the amount of money it spends on improving people’s lives by dealing with unemployment, poverty and inequality.

The economy grew at an estimated 1.8 per cent in 2013. domestic conditions, combined with a slow recovery in the global economy, led to a moderation in output and employment growth. The economy is expected to grow by 2.7 per cent in 2014 and reach 3.5 per cent in 2016.

Several factors will support this expected improvement. Public investment in infrastructure – expected at R847.3 billion over the next 3 years – should reduce bottlenecks in electricity and transport and encourage private investment, while stronger employment growth will support household spending. South Africa should also benefit from the improved export opportunities presented by a stronger global outlook.

The building of new infrastructure and upgrading of the existing stock – including the expansion of electricity supply, investment in integrated public transport networks and the rehabilitation of the country’s five large water transfer schemes – is at the centre of government’s plan. 

South Africa will also draw strength from the rapid expansion of trade and investment on the African continent. The strong growth expected in sub-Saharan Africa will help improve South Africa’s economic prospects for the next three years. Government will therefore, increasingly align its policies to support economic integrations with the African continent.

INDUSTRY SUPPORT: R10.3 billion will go towards manufacturing development incentives; R15.2 billion for the economic competitiveness and support package for businesses; R3.6 billion for job creation at special economic zones.

JOB CREATION: Over the next 5 years, government aims to create 6 million jobs through the Expanded Public Works Programme, from 4 million compared to the previous 5 years.

FIGHTING CORRUPTION: Work by the Chief Procurement Officer to reform the procurement system and ensure that money is spent prudently has begun in earnest. These efforts are aimed at reducing corruption.

EDUCATION & TRAINING: Spending on education is higher than any other category. Over the next 3 years, R78 billion will go towards university subsidies and R34.3 billion for building schools.

INFRASTRUCTURE: Government is committed to investing infrastructure that improves lives. In 2014, for example R11 billion will go to the PRASA for new rolling stocks and upgrade of signalling infrastructure.

The Budget also provides for personal income tax relief of R9.25 billion for individual taxpayers. Personal income tax brackets and rebates have been adjusted to give relief for the effect of inflation. The relief has been structured to benefit tax payers who earn below R350 000 in a year the most. 

Source – National Treasury & South African Revenue Service

Office National appoints new CEO

Wihan Oosthuizen will become the new CEO of Office National Africa with effect from 1st of April, following the resignation of Ryan Bidgood. Oosthuizen has been at the South African dealer group since 2008.

Arthur Rump, Chairman Office National Africa said: “After 16 years in the industry both locally and in Australia, Ryan feels it is time for a change. He will be joining a new family venture in the waste management industry, something completely outside our industry. Fortunately he will not be lost to Office National as he remains a large shareholder and will continue to be a Director on the Board of Office National Africa.”

Bidgood has also resigned from the shop-sa Board of Directors with immediate effect. The Association wishes him well in his new venture.

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