Archive for December, 2012


by Michael Brennan

Sage has been carefully listening to its global market for Sage ERP X3 with regards to feedback and requests on the topic of Financial Reporting and is already making progress on integrating a powerful and flexible reporting technology based on cutting edge BI technology. The Sage ERP X3 core product team in France has embarked on a strategic partnership with our team with the intention of providing a modern Excel-based financial reporting designer and tools.

We have been in the business of offering robust Excel-based business intelligence tools for 11 years and have been working on Sage ERP products since 2005. Sage France’s move to collaborate closely with our team, mainly based in South Africa, is well aligned with Sage Group’s core strategy of consolidating group assets across regions and presents an exciting roadmap of consistent product and service offerings globally.

As global market BI market trends continue to evolve we have been investing heavily in new advanced technologies to power our next generation offerings and are pleased to announce Sage ERP X3 version 7 will include fully integrated financial reporting capabilities based on its next generation In-Memory Database BI Platform codenamed ‘LIME’. This new column based database platform has been engineered from the ground up to cater the needs of tomorrow’s businesses with a core focus on high performance, flexibility and great user experience. The new platform is able to accelerate performance by pre-calculating financial logic and place the results into its in-memory BI database to dramatically improve real-time query performance.

Expectations on this new offering include report design automation to cater for novice Excel users as well as flexible drag and drop formulas for capable Excel users. This approach allows both types of users to pull financial and analytical ledger data directly out of Sage ERP X3 v7 and arrange it within Excel using their existing Excel skills and save your Excel report securely back to the Sage ERP X3 server. In addition to utilizing cutting edge technology, we are also including major usability and modernization changes to our  report designer tools as we ramp up to deliver on ever increasing market demands for simpler BI and reporting software. This is great news for users who are already using Sage Intelligence Financial Reporting for Sage ERP X3 v6 and v6.5 who can look forward to substantial business value increases when moving to the integrated report designer within Sage ERP X3 which will be available as an option to all users using version 7.

Both French and South African teams are excited about the extent of new business value planned for Sage ERP X3 version 7 as a result of their collaboration and having a dedicated BI team focus on the Excel financial reporting capabilities of Sage ERP X3 allows the French team to ship more value to market each release.

A Legislative Look at 2013

By Rob Cooper, Director of Legislation Updates and Proposed Legislation at Softline VIP, part of the Sage Group plc.

Rob Cooper

Rob Cooper

The dawn of 2013 brings a number of legislative changes that are looming on the horizon.

Proposed changes to the South African Labour Relations Act (LRA) and the Basic Conditions of Employment Act (BCEA) are on the cards for 2013 in the wake of massive protest action that has crippled the country.  Some of the proposed changes include the fact that minimum wages can be prescribed by the Minister of Labour.  Public officials are also proposed to have the power to prohibit strikes in their sectors.  It is also proposed that Unions must ballot and get majority agreement to strike or picket, but there is strong opposition from Cosatu who see this as a curtailment of their freedom to strike and one wonders whether this will be in the final legislation.

Fortunately, the debate whether labour brokers should be closed down or regulated, seems to have gone the way of stricter regulation.  A decision has however been passed that ‘Atypical’ employees become ‘Deemed’ employees after six months.  The upheaval in the industry has seen the number of labour brokers dramatically reduce from 3,234 in 2010 to 2,685 in 2011.

These proposals have been pushed through Nedlac, despite labour and business differences.  Parliament’s labour portfolio committee is to finalise last ‘discussions’ with amendments to the respective bills having been published on 22 October 2012.  The effective date is yet to be announced.

Employment Equity Act proposals were recently released by Nedlac that will see the act continuing to focus on provincial targets instead of national demographic targets.  Increased fines and powers are proposed in addition to the introduction of the concept of equal pay for work of equal value.  These proposals could quite possibly be rolled out in conjunction with the BCEA and LRA amendments.

South Africa has a Total of 19,5 million unemployed people, of whom 4,5 million are ‘officially’ unemployed in addition to 60% not having a matric.  Of the youth under the age of 25, around 50% are unemployed.  Unfortunately the Youth Subsidy, which had reached a fairly advanced stage, was given the political boot at the ANC’s June policy conference, to be replaced by a ‘Job seeker Grant’, of which there are no details available.  It is expected that more information will be released at the Mangaung elective conference.

Tax Relief for Medical Expenses is expected to change in either March 2013 or March 2014, from a deduction calculation to a ‘Medical Tax Credit’ method of calculation. Contribution expenses for all taxpayers are to be defined, while an assessment method to calculate the tax relief on total medical expenses is to be tabled.  These proposals will result in a gradual reduction of the value of our current tax relief which has been the trend over the past two years.

The National Health Insurance project is set to be a fourteen year project of which the total cost is still being debated.  The Budget 2012 funding options were to increase the VAT rate; or to increase the surcharge on taxable income; or to introduce a payroll tax contribution.  Thus far the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement remained silent on the subject, though a Treasury discussion document is expected soon.

There will be a major move towards the standardisation of retirement funds and there are many reasons for the proposed changes.  The poor performance by some private retirement funds is a major catalyst as is the prevailing low retirement savings level in the country.  Also the tax and administration rules around retirement funds are simply too complex.

The purpose of the change is to ensure that all retirement funds have the same administration and tax rules.  The intention is to utilise the tax and administration rules that are applicable to retirement annuities and to replicate it for retirement funds.  There are many ‘vested interests’ to be protected and it will only be applicable to South African residents.  The roll-out is tentatively planned for March 2014.

Proposals for a National Retirement Fund have also been tabled, which will take the form of a mandatory statutory fund that provides pension, life insurance and disability benefits.  The fund is to be phased in over the next four years and will place pressure on the private sector retirement funds.

Proposed changes to the Unemployment Insurance Act will affect ‘Credit days’ which is proposed to be calculated as one calendar day for every four calendar days employed.  The proposal will also see an increase in the income replacement rate and may remove certain exclusions or limitations in the Act.

The introduction of the virtual UIF office system allows individuals to apply for UIF benefits electronically.  It effectively eliminates the need to queue at the labour office, reduces the cost of ‘accessing’ the benefit and reduces the benefit approval time from about four weeks to 48 hours.

These are just some of the changes lined up for 2013 and we will continue the discussion as we near the budget speech in the New Year.