Archive for the ‘Corporate Perfomance Management’ category

UAE and AI

June 20th, 2019

A report commissioned by Microsoft and conducted by EY says the UAE has seen the second highest AI investment over the past decade, more than USD $2.15 billion
• One in five companies in the country consider AI as their top digital priority
• 94% of C-suite leadership consider ‘AI strategy’ as an important topic and 35% of non-managerial staff are actively having AI discussions

New research shows the state of AI within businesses across the UAE is expected to improve dramatically over the next three years,as a growing number of executives look to AI to drive their digital agendas. Already, 18% of businesses in the country consider AI their most important digital priority. (AI Maturity Report in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) Click here – a new study commissioned by Microsoft and conducted by EY.)

The UAE’s progress in elevating the AI agenda is a direct result of leaders across the country recognising that the technology is a key differentiator across all sectors. 94% of companies in the UAE report involvement in AI at executive management level – the highest percentage of any surveyed country in MEA.

“When we examine companies with high AI maturity, it’s clear that the technology is driven directly by the CEOs themselves. This high level of involvement typically results in greater investment in AI, broader adopti on and a greater number of successful implementations,” says Sayed Hashish, regional general manager at Microsoft Gulf.

Leadership capability in the UAE is also rated high when compared with other countries in MEA. While 64% of respondents believe they have moderate, little or no AI leadership competency, 24% of executives in the UAE rated themselves as highly competent, with another 46 percent indicating they are either competent or very competent. Most companies still consider themselves to be in the planned phase of AI maturity, meaning AI has not yet been put to active use. On the opposite end of the spectrum, just 8% of businesses perceive themselves as advanced in their application of AI.

It’s not surprising that the UAE is the second highest regional investor in AI over the past ten years, investing $2.15 billion in total. The bulk of this investment went towards social media and Internet of Things (IoT) transactions. This was followed by notable spend across a further eight technologies, including smart mobile, gamification, and machine learning.

Machine learning is ranked as the most useful AI technology, with primary emphasis placed on decision support solutions, then smart robotics and text analysis, where customer interactions are the key focus.

The UAE’s open culture around AI is a highly positive indicator of the health of the technology within the country. 94% of UAE companies have ‘AI Strategy’ as an important topic at C-suite level and a significant 35% of companies say AI discussions are filtering down from top management right the way through to non-managerial levels. As a result, employees in the UAE embrace opportunities to participate in skills training and pilot programmes.

UAE companies are, in general, heavily focused on customer engagement when it comes to AI. The use of chatbots in the marketing space has become common, largely because they enhance the customer experience, ultimately demonstrating obvious value to management. UAE respondents expect AI to deliver greater operational efficiencies, drive down costs and, most importantly, enable them to be more competitive. Companies within the Emirates view prediction (76%) and automation (76%) as the most relevant applications of AI for their businesses.

65% of UAE companies rate themselves as highly to very competent when it comes to drawing on external alliances to strengthen their AI capabilities.

Synergy Software Systems offers Integration as a service, Robotic Process Automation, Machine learning, and Advanced analytics solutions

Power BI advanced analytics and AI

June 19th, 2019

There is a huge demand to get more insight from the data using AI and advanced analytics.
See how to use visuals in Power BI to get more insight from your data and how to use embedded AI features in Power BI.

Power BI is about helping our customers embrace a data culture, where every employee can make better decisions based on data. The growth of Power BI has been staggering – customers ingest more than 20PB of data to Power BI every month, lighting up over 30M reports and dashboards, and the Power BI service processes over 12M queries per hour.

Gartner named Microsoft a Leader in the Magic Quadrant for Analytics and BI Platforms for 12 consecutive years.
Power BI has led the way in infusing AI with BI through capabilities like Quick Insights which help unearth trends in data and Q&A which enable business users to get answers by simply asking questions.

Microsoft recently announced the general availability of Azure Cognitive Services and Azure ML dataflows integration, to provide analysts with a toolkit of powerful AI functions:

● Azure Cognitive Services are sophisticated pre-trained machine learning models for intelligent applications. Analysts can use these models to extract insights from images by detecting objects. Text fields like customer feedback can be analyzed for positive and negative sentiment as well as have key phrases extracted. All these AI enrichments can be easily consumed by end users through interactive Power BI reports.

● Azure Machine Learning is a powerful platform where data scientists can develop machine learning models. These models can now easily be shared and used by analysts. Power BI automatically discovers which models an analyst has permissions to and provides an intuitive point and click user interface to invoke them. Analysts can now easily collaborate with data scientists as well as visualize and use insights from the model in their reports.

Learn more about the general availability for cognitive services, Azure ML and the AI workload in Power BI Premium.

Some exciting new capabilities that will be available soon:

● Two new AI visuals—Distribution Changes analyzes what makes a distribution look different, and the Decomposition Tree enables users to drill into any dimension to understand what is driving a key metric.

● Expanding Power BI’s vision and text analytics capabilities and adding entity detection and text and handwriting recognition, enabling one-click transformations for insights on unstructured data.

● For enterprises that need custom lifecycle management or further tuning, models created in Power BI can be exported to Azure ML

● Extending Power BI’s natural language capabilities. The new updates include the ability to train Q&A so it understands and adapts to company-specific language like synonyms, phrasings, or specific domains, and the ability for report authors to see every natural-language question asked so they can adjust how Power BI responds.

Template apps are integrated packages of pre-built Power BI dashboards and reports, configured to connect to specific data sources. With them, Microsoft partners can quickly provide analytics for the apps and services they provide. Partners can also manage the Template Apps development lifecycle, from dev to marketplace to updates. With template apps, users can immediately begin exploring, learning, and acting on key data with off-the-shelf apps. Today, Template Apps become generally available. Users can find and install template apps on AppSource.

Embedded analytics keeps evolving

With Power BI embedded analytics, you can extend the value of Power BI Premium and Power BI Pro. Embed analytics in internal websites, applications, and portals to empower your organization to make data-driven decisions. Here is some of the exciting news we are sharing today:

● Service principals with Power BI are now generally available. With service principal, application developers can authenticate an external application to embed Power BI content or manage and automate Power BI operations with Power BI using an app-only token. Read the full article.

● Use the AI-based ‘Key Influencers’ visualization in your application to allow end users to see which factors affect the metric being analyzed and contrast the relative importance of these factors.

Databases breaches

June 18th, 2019

Verizon has published a Data Breach Investigations Report annually and the latest report is the 11th edition, and all are extremely well detailed. Not all data breaches are discovered, and those that are discovered aren’t necessarily reported. The 2018 report covers 53,000 incidents, defined as: A security event that compromises the integrity, confidentiality or availability of an information asset. . It also covers 2,216 breaches, which are defined as: An incident that results in the confirmed disclosure — not just potential exposure — of data to an unauthorized party.

These numbers ), do NOT include breaches involving botnets. The additional 43,000 successful accesses via stolen credentials associated with botnets are handled in a special insights section of the report.

Those are scary numbers.

The Verizon report show s 73% perpetuated by outsiders, 28% involving internal actors, 2% involving partners, 2% featuring multiple parties, 50% carried out by organized criminal groups, 12% involved actors identified as nation-state or state-affiliated. These figures are regarding those confirmed data breaches, not all security incidents. While 28% involve internal users, the bulk of data breaches were caused by from people outside the organization, using malware or social attacks, or exploiting vulnerabilities created due to errors.

While the exact internal actors weren’t found for all of the reported data breaches, analysis was done for 277 data breaches and a screen shows: 72 system admin, 62 end user, 62 other, 32 doctor or nurse, 15 developer, 9 manager, 8 executives

Database administrators may focus on denying permissions to developers for production, but developers proved much less likely to be involved in data breaches than system admins …which includes … the DBAs.

You don’t need production system access to cause a data breach. It’s common practice in an enterprise to make copies of production data for use by analysts, developers, product managers, marketing professionals, and others.

Privacy law compliance makes this all the more concerning.

Biometrics – privacy and security concerns

June 18th, 2019

On Monday last week a US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) subcontractor suffered a data breach that exposed the photos of tens of thousands of travelers coming in and out of the United States, through specific lanes at a single Port of Entry over a one and a half months period, in what was described as a “malicious cyber-attack.”

The database of traveler photos and license plate images was transferred to a CBP subcontractor’s network without the federal agency’s authorization or knowledge, the CBP explained. The subcontractor’s network was then hacked. BP said its own systems had not been compromised. Fortunately no other identifying information was included with the photos, and no passport or other travel document photos were compromised.

Images of airline passengers from the air entry and exit process were also not involved.

CBP’s “biometric entry-exit system,”is the government initiative to biometrically verify the identities of all travelers crossing US borders. which it is racing to implement so as to use facial recognition technology on “100 percent of all international passengers,” including American citizens, in the top 20 US airports by 2021.

The concern is whether that is urgency is ignoring vetting, and regulatory safeguards, and privacy legislation. Only last month, Perceptics, the maker of vehicle license plate readers used by the US government and cities to identify and track citizens, was hacked, and its files were dumped online. It is not clear whether the attacks were connected.

Major SQL updates don’t skip – SQL Server 2016 SP2 CU7 and SQL Server 2017 CU 15

May 26th, 2019

This week, Microsoft released two major updates.

SQL Server 2016 SP2 CU7 has multiple fixes including:

• Filtered index corruption
• Access violations in sys.dm_exec_query_statistics_xml, sys.dm_hadr_availability_replica_states, sys.availability_replicas, sys.dm_db_xtp_hash_index_stats, sys.fn_dump_dblog, sys.dm_db_xtp_checkpoint_files
(I.e. if you monitor your servers, which you should, then you should apply this CU to avoid problems caused by the monitoring tool’s queries)
• AG failover fails
• Incorrect query results on columnstore indexes, and also this

SQL Server 2017 CU 15 has even MORE fixes, read the full list. https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/4498951/cumulative-update-15-for-sql-server-2017

Note also, that from SQL Server 2017, the Analysis Services build version number and SQL Server Database Engine build version number do not match

There are some CUs you might be tempted to skip because they don’t affect you. These releases will affect a wide range of features and you should plan to apply these sooner than later.

Power BI updates April 2019 – ask Synergy Software Systems

April 10th, 2019

We have delivered many Power BI models, reports and training sessions over the last two years, and it has been enthusiastically adopted by customers. Microsoft is continually adding new features.

– Power BI Report Builder, is the latest companion application for Power BI that lets you author Paginated Reports is a free, standalone Windows Desktop application that can now be downloaded from the Power BI website. As the name suggests, paginated reports can run to many pages. They’re laid out in a fixed format and offer precise customization. Paginated reports are .rdl files. You can store and manage paginated reports in the Power BI Report Server web portal, just as you can in the SQL Server Reporting Services (SSRS) web portal. You create and edit them in Report Builder or Report Designer in SQL Server Data Tools (SSDT), then publish those to a web portal. Report readers in your organization can then view the reports in a browser or in a Power BI mobile app on their mobile device.

Power BI Report Builder enables you to:
•Use the Report Builder ribbon to quickly add items your reports, launch table, chart, and map wizards, and format your report data.
•Add data from built-in data providers.
•Create and use report parameters and other interactive features.
•Preview reports in HTML or print format.
•Export reports to file formats such as Microsoft Excel or PDF.
•Save your report locally
•In a future update, you’ll be able to both open and publish from/to the Power BI Service

To download and install Power BI Report Builder, you can click on the COG icon in the title bar of Power BI site and select the Report Builder option.

The March 2019 release of Power BI Desktop has brought us keyboard accessible visual interactions. One of Power BI’s natural strengths is that you can click on a data point within a visual and have it cross-highlight or cross-filter the other visuals on a page. Keyboard-only users weren’t able to use this feature until now. Interact with a visual using keyboard commands. Notice you can select specific data points within the line chart, and the other charts on the page filter based upon the selection.

Power BI update March – April 2019

March 21st, 2019

Microsoft launched the public preview of new Power BI workspace experiences in August 2018 to enable Power BI workspace admins:
• to use security groups to manage access to workspaces,
• to enable BI teams to create workspaces without needing to create an Office 365 Group,
• to provide granular workspace roles to make giving access to workspaces easier.

At the beginning of April 2019, the new workspace experiences. will reach General Availability (GA)

Usage metrics for new workspaces are rolling out this week
This capability is much requested by customers and works the same as it did for classic workspaces based on Office 365 Groups. It may take until late this week or next week to reach all commercial cloud customers.

https://powerbi.microsoft.com/en-us/blog/update-on-the-new-workspace-experiences-preview-including-ga-timeline/

The March update for the On-premises data gateway (version 3000.2.47) includes an updated version of the Mashup Engine, which matches the one released as part of the Power BI Desktop March update.

This will ensure that the reports that you publish to the Power BI Service and refresh via the Gateway will go through the same query execution logic/runtime as in the latest Power BI Desktop version.

Happiness Day, Loneliness and Power BI

March 21st, 2019

At the annual Gartner BI Bake Off session at the Gartner Data and Analytics Summit in Orlando, Florida the Power BI team featured this report which you can explore here:

Here are some insights and highlights from the report:
• The employment groups with the most happiness are employed and retired people followed closely by stay at home parents and students.
• The highest ratio of lonely to non-lonely people by age group is between 35 and 44 years old.
• For the countries in the dataset, the UK and the US have higher loneliness ratios (0.30 and 0.29 respectively) than Japan (0.10).

if you think Power BI might provide insights into your business, and need training or assistance with report modelling, or need to understand the different licence types, then contact us – 009714 3365589

Recent G.C.C VAT updates

February 16th, 2019

Passive interest and dividends
The Federal Tax Authority (FTA) asserted that passively earned interest income from bank deposits and dividend income are outside the scope of Value Added Tax (VAT), and there is no requirement to report these in the VAT return.
VAT is a tax imposed on the import and supply of goods and services at each stage of production and distribution, therefore, VAT implications arise only when there is a supply – when there is no supply, there is no VAT implication.
The FTA explained that the Federal Decree-Law No. (8) of 2017 on VAT and its Executive Regulations have included specific provisions on what would constitute a supply of goods and a supply of services and also included a definition for taxable supplies. As such, where any transaction falls outside the scope of these provisions, it would, as a consequence, fall outside the scope of VAT.
The FTA also noted that although Article (42) of the Executive Regulations outlines the tax treatment of financial services, stating that the payment or collection of any amount of interest and dividend is considered to be a financial service and is therefore exempt from VAT, this would only apply where there is, in fact, a supply.
The Authority had issued the “VAT Public Clarification on Bank Interest and Dividends” as part of its Public Clarifications service, which are available on the FTA website and seek to educate taxpayers on all technical issues surrounding taxes, allowing them to implement the tax system efficiently.
In a press statement the Federal Tax Authority noted that if, for instance, a retail business deposits its income into a bank account and earns interest on the deposited amount, and the said retail business does not do anything to earn this income aside from merely depositing the money in the account, it can then be said that the interest was earned passively. In this case, the retail business is not considered to have made a supply to the bank, and the interest income received is not a consideration for a supply, which, in turn, means that the retail business is not required to declare this income on its VAT return, as it is outside the scope of VAT.
The Authority noted, however, that the above position only applies to interest derived from bank deposits and does not have any bearing on the interest generated from extending loans or credit, which are exempt supplies for VAT purposes.
Dividend income:
• The FTA explained that the payment of a dividend by a company is a distribution of its profits to its shareholders, where the holder of a share is not entitled to a dividend until the company has declared a dividend.
• Dividend income becomes due for shareholders in a company by the mere ownership of shares in that company and if the company makes any profits and declares dividends.
• The shareholder then receives the dividends and does not make any supply in order to be eligible for a payment of dividends, making the dividend a generally passive income.
• Accordingly, dividend income is outside the scope of VAT, and is therefore, not required to be reported on the VAT return. T
• he Authority noted, nonetheless, that while dividend income is generally outside the scope of VAT, any amount charged as a “management fee” would be subject to VAT. For example, management fees charged by a holding company to its subsidiaries would be subject to VAT.

The Public Clarifications service can be accessed through the Federal Tax Authority’s official website by clicking the “Help” button, then choosing the “Public Clarifications” tab, and selecting the required document. (https://www.tax.gov.ae/en/public-clarification.aspx)

Deregistration
The Federal Tax Authority (the “Authority”) explained that the Federal Decree-Law No. 8 of 2017 on Value Added Tax has defined the cases for tax de-registration. As such, when a registrant stops making taxable supplies or if the value of the taxable supplies made by the registrant over a period of 12 consecutive months is less than the voluntary registration threshold of AED 187,500 and it is not expected that the total value of the registrant’s anticipated taxable supplies or expenses subject to tax in the coming 30-day period will exceed the voluntary registration threshold, then the registrant must submit a de-registration application to the Authority within 20 business days of the occurrence of any of these cases using the Authority’s e-Services portal, knowing that failing to submit the de-registration application within the period specified in the tax legislation will lead to the imposition of administrative penalties as stipulated in the Cabinet Resolution No. 40 of 2017 on Administrative Penalties for Violations of Tax Laws in the UAE. This was the subject of a press release issued by the Authority to clarify the conditions and procedures for de-registration for Value Added Tax, after more than a year of its implementation. The Authority confirmed that registrants will not be de-registered unless they have paid all due taxes and administrative penalties and filed all required tax returns for the period in which they were registered as stipulated under the tax legislation.

The Authority went on to assert that the UAE Tax System is based entirely on voluntary compliance by Taxable Persons, whether it being with regards to registration, filing Tax Returns and payment of due tax or de-registration, noting that these services are available free of charge.
The Authority also mentioned that these procedures can be completed within few minutes through simple steps via the e-Services portal, available 24/7 on the Authority’s website (www.tax.gov.ae).

KSA
Reduction of the value-added tax (VAT) registration threshold to SR 375,000 from January 1, 2019, will increase the taxpayer base by about 150,000
The 2018 base was over 140,000 VAT-registered taxpayers.

Non-resident taxpayers are required to appoint a tax representative to act on their behalf and to assume joint liability for VAT debts. This requirement is posing some challenge to some non-resident taxpayers. Hopefully, progress in this area can be made soon.

VAT audits have commenced and assessments issued for contraventions of the regulations such as late registration and filing of VAT returns as well as incorrect declarations.
The global trend is towards tax authorities accessing taxpayer data directly and, in some territories, preparing the return for the taxpayer. Saudi taxpayers need to be prepared. Expect an increase in the level of scrutiny as GAZT continues to build its resources to challenge the VAT treatment of specific transactions.

Foreign Business VAT recovery
In a new guide on “VAT Refunds for Business Visitors”, published on its official website, the Federal Tax Authority (FTA) outlined four conditions that allow foreign businesses to recover Value Added Tax (VAT) incurred in the UAE To be eligible for the VAT refund.
1.The first condition is that foreign businesses must not have a place of establishment or fixed establishment in the UAE or in any of the VAT-Implementing GCC States that fully comply with the provisions of the Common VAT Agreement of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf.
2.Second, such foreign businesses must not be a Taxable Person in the UAE.
3.Third, they must also be registered as an establishment with a competent authority in the jurisdiction in which they are establishe
4. The fourth condition is that they must be from a country that implements VAT and that equally provides VAT refunds to UAE businesses in similar circumstances.

FTA Director General His Excellency Khalid Ali Al Bustani described the refund procedure as clear and transparent, noting that it supports economic activities in the areas in which the visiting business of the country participates, which is reflected positively on many sectors including tourism, trade, exhibitions, conferences, etc. He stated that the mechanism is in accordance with the Federal Decree-Law No. 8 of 2017 on Value Added Tax and the terms and conditions set in its Executive Regulations, which call for refunding taxes paid on supplies or imports made by a foreign entity not residing in the UAE or any of the Implementing States, subject to meeting certain conditions. He further explained that reciprocity is a key condition for the procedure, whereby the Authority will refund the VAT to businesses resident in countries that refund VAT for UAE businesses visiting their territories.

The Federal Tax Authority clarified that the period of each refund claim shall be a calendar year, noting that for claims in respect of the 2018 calendar year, refund applications can be made as of April 1, 2019. However, for subsequent calendar years, the opening date for accepting refund applications will be March 1st of the following year; this means that for the period from January 1 to December 31, 2019, applications will be accepted as of March 1, 2020.

The FTA went on to stress that the minimum claim amount of each VAT refund application submitted by business visitors is AED2,000, which may consist of a single purchase or multiple purchases. The Authority urged potential applicants to hold on to the original tax invoices on the purchases for which they would like to reclaim VAT, as they will be required to be submitted along with the refund applications.
Businesses residing in any GCC State that is not considered to be an Implementing

State may still submit a VAT refund application to reclaim VAT incurred in the UAE under this scheme, the FTA assured, outlining only 3 situations where VAT cannot be reclaimed,
1,The first situation is if the Foreign Business in question makes supplies in the UAE, unless the recipient is obliged to account for VAT under the Reverse Charge Mechanism.
2. Second, a VAT refund cannot be processed if the Input Tax in respect of any goods or services is “blocked” from recovery and, therefore, not recoverable by a Taxable Person in the UAE.
3. The third situation where a refund is not possible is if the Foreign Business is a non-resident tour operator.

The guide on “VAT Refunds for Business Visitors” can be accessed on the FTA’s official website via the link:
https://www.tax.gov.ae/pdf/VAT%20Refund%20User%20Guide-Business%20Visitors_EN.pdf (See Public Ax 2012 Finance Vat folder)
Independent Directors Services

Independent Directors’ services
The Federal Tax Authority (FTA) has confirmed that the date of supply for Value Added Tax (VAT) with regard to Independent Directors’ services is determined either in accordance with the general rules or the special rules, depending mainly on whether the fees for the said directors were known from the outset or not.
Where such fees are known from the outset, the date of supply shall be determined in accordance with the provisions of Articles (25) and (26) of Federal Decree-Law No. (8) of 2017 on VAT, depending on whether or not there will be periodic payments. If such fees are not known from the outset, they shall be determined upon conclusion of the Annual General Meeting and the date of supply shall be established only when such fees become known.
The date of supply prescribes the point in time when a VAT Registrant needs to account for VAT, the Authority explained in the Public Clarification on the Date of Supply for Independent Directors. This is part of the “Public Clarifications” service available on the FTA’s website to introduce taxpayers to all aspects of the tax system and facilitate compliance. The service can be accessed via the link: https://www.tax.gov.ae/public-clarification.aspx
The FTA explained that in instances where the Board Fees are known at the outset and involve periodic or multiple payments, the date of supply would be determined as per Article (26) of Federal Decree-Law No. (8) of 2017 on VAT, where the date of supply would be the earliest of the following three: The date of issuance of the tax invoice; the date the payment is due as shown on the tax invoice; and the date of receipt of payment. If 12 months have passed from the date of provision of services and none of the aforesaid events has occurred, the date of supply will be triggered at the end of the 12th month.
As for the instances where Board Fees are known at the outset but there are no periodic or multiple payments, the date of supply would be determined as per Article (25) of the Federal Decree-Law No. (8) of 2017 on VAT. Accordingly, the date of supply would be the earliest of the following three: The date of issuance of a tax invoice; the date on which the provision of services was completed; and the date of receipt of payment.

Profit Margin Scheme
The UAE Federal Tax Authority (FTA) asserted that only those goods which have previously been subject to VAT before the supply in question may be subject to the profit margin scheme. As a result, stock on hand of used goods which were acquired prior to the effective date of Federal Decree-Law No. (8) on Value Added Tax (“VAT law”), or which have not previously been subject to VAT for other reasons, are not eligible to be sold under the profit margin scheme. VAT is therefore due on the full selling price of such goods.

The taxable person will not be allowed to apply the profit margin scheme in such cases where he has issued a tax invoice or any other document mentioning an amount of VAT chargeable in respect of the supply.
• The profit margin is the difference between the purchase price of the Goods and the selling price of the Goods,
• The profit margin shall be deemed to be inclusive of Tax
• A VAT registered business may apply the profit margin scheme to eligible goods when:
o the goods must have been purchased from either a person who is not registered for VAT;
o or a taxable person who calculated VAT on the supply by reference to the profit margin i.e. a VAT registered business, which already applied the profit margin scheme on the same goods.
o In addition, the profit margin scheme may also apply when the taxable person made a supply of the goods where input tax was not recovered in accordance with Article 53 of Cabinet Decision No. 52 of 2017.
Suppliers should be confident that a good has previously been subject to tax in order to apply the profit margin scheme. Such evidence or information of this position could include but is not limited to.:
o information relating to the date the good was first manufactured, sold or brought in to use
o e.g. in the case of a car, the date the car was first registered would indicate its sale would have been subject to VAT if it was registered on a date after 1 January 2018;
o Evidence that the supplier paid VAT on their original purchase e.g. by asking the supplier for a copy of the tax invoice relating to their purchase of the good.
Where a Taxable Person has charged Tax in respect of a supply with reference to the profit margin, the Taxable Person shall issue a Tax Invoice that clearly states that the Tax was charged with reference to the profit margin, in addition to all other information required to be stated in a Tax Invoice except the amount of Tax.

Transportation

As per the Clause (4), Article (45) of the Federal Decree-Law No. 8 of 2017 on Value Added Tax and as per Article (34) of Cabinet Decision No. 52 of 2017 on the Executive Regulations (“VAT Executive Regulations”): The supply of the means of transport shall be subject to the zero rate in the case of, a supply of bus or train that is designed or adapted to be used for public transportation of (10) or more passengers.

One such qualifying means of transport includes the supply of a bus or train that is designed or adapted to be used for public transportation of 10 or more passengers. This Public Clarification discusses the definition of ‘public transportation’ and its interpretation for the purposes of identifying those buses or trains which qualify to be supplied at the zero rate under this provision.As a result, those means of transport which are designed to transport a specific category of individuals, such as school students or employees of a business, do not meet the conditions to be treated as a qualifying means of transport for the purposes of the zero-rating provisions. Such means of transport shall therefore be subject to the standard rate of VAT.
This denotes that, any supplies of means of transport (e.g. supply of buses) made for the use of schools or business are subject to 5% tax at the time of its purchase.
It has also been clarified by the FTA that, whether or not the original supply of the means of transport qualified for zero rating has no impact on the VAT liability of any charges made for the supply of transportation services. The VAT treatment of the means of transport when purchased does not determine the VAT treatment of any supply of transport services made using that vehicle. Providing services to business for transporting its employees from one place to another still remains exempt under law. Therefore, where local transport is made for a charge to a defined group of people, any VAT incurred on the costs of purchasing the means of transport, fuel etc. in order to provide that service is not recoverable.

Difference between private transportation & public transportation in the VAT Law:
What is Private Transportation?

FTA defines ‘Private Transportation’ as ‘all means of transportation used to transport a specific group of people under contracts.’
What is Public Transportation?
The transport used for ‘public transportation’ shall be interpreted by the FTA as, ‘all means of mass transportation used to transport all individuals without specifying any category.’
The difference between the two forms of transportation therefore means that public transportation should be available for all individuals without exception. Public transportation would not include transportation which is only available to a specific category of user.
To summarize, if a bus or train is designed or adapted for a specific class or group of people, or is only available for use by a specific class or group of people, then it shall be considered to be designed or adapted for use for private transportation. And thus, the supply of such means of transport will be taxable.
Factors relevant to identify Public Transportation:
In order to determine whether a bus or train is designed or adapted for use for public transportation, the following factors would be relevant:
1. Features exist which allow passengers to pay for the transportation or to indicate they possess a ticket e.g. a payment booth, ticket scanner or device to take payment;
2. There is branding either within or outside the vehicle advertising the transport service, indicating the transportation is available to all;
3. There is branding or other features indicating regulation of the means of transport by the entity regulating public transportation in the Emirate of operation;
4. The intended use of the means of transport is to transport members of the public without exception or limitation to a specific group.
By considering above points, the following means of transports are not be considered to be used for public transportation:
1. School buses;
2. Buses used to transport groups of employees or workers to or from a place of work;
3. Shuttle buses used to transport hotel guests to other locations e.g. a mall, airport, park, or other tourist attraction.
Hence the and the supply of such means of transports shall be subject to VAT at the standard rate.
VAT Liability of Transportation Services:
To add on, services related to transportation shall be governed by Clause 4 of Article 46 of the VAT Law and Article 45 of the Executive Regulations which state that any supply of local passenger transport shall be exempt from VAT where the supply is of local passenger transport services in a qualifying means of transport by land, water or air from a place in the UAE to another place in the UAE.
For the purposes of the exemption from tax, one of the qualifying means of transport listed includes a motor vehicle, including a taxi, bus, railway train, tram, mono-rail or similar means of transport, designed or adapted for transport of passengers.

Emirati Nationals – Home owners
The Federal Tax Authority issued a guide Apr2018 with details for home owners on how to claim the refund.
Emirati house owners have the right to a five per cent value added tax (VAT) refund when constructing their homes, the Federal Tax Authority (FTA) has stated. The Authority has issued a guide with details for home owners on how to claim the refund. It clarifies that only UAE citizens have the right to ask for the refund. They need no new account on the Authority’s website, and only need to download and fill a form and submit it back so the Authority
t UAE nationals can claim the VAT refund against the construction expenses for a residential building, when they construct it either for themselves or for their family members.
UAE nationals can claim the refund against a newly constructed building to be used solely as residence, under Article (66) of Cabinet Decision No. (52) of 2017 on the Executive Regulations, of the Federal Decree-Law No (8) of 2017 on Value Added Tax,”.
The VAT refund is not allowed in relation to a building that will not be used solely as a residence by the person or the person’s family. For example, it is not to be used as a hotel, guest house, hospital, or if the property is to be used for rental purposes or for any other purpose not consistent with it being used as a residence,
According to the guide issued by the FTA, an Emirati owner has the right to ask for the VAT refund if he bought a piece of land and allowed an authorised person or company to establish a housing unit on it. The guide says that the VAT refund only includes the money spent on establishing the unit, adding that it includes the amounts paid as building materials, except for electricity products of furniture or green areas.
On the other hand, the refund also includes VAT paid for doors, fire alarms systems, floors, kitchens, health units, bathrooms, windows, and electricity cables. A third entity is going to review the housing units to approve the refund and its amount after the Emirati owner submits the form. Moreover, the owner needs documents that prove his ownership for the unit, show the date of issuing the certification of establishment, prove the ownership of the land and show the value of VAT paid during the process.
It should be noted that the VAT refund will be claimed after completion of the new building which is ready to use. The owner must file a VAT refund application after getting registration with the FTA within six months from the date of completion of the newly built residence. Processing can take up to 20 days.
A newly built residence is considered complete at the date the residence becomes occupied, or the date when it is certified as completed by a competent authority in the state, or as may otherwise be stipulated by the Authority.
Also where the Authority has repaid tax and following the receipt of such repayment, if the person used the building for rental or any other commercial purpose, then he will be required to repay the amount of the tax that was claimed by him. The UAE national can claim VAT against construction related expenses excluding furniture or electrical appliances.

Grants and Sponsorships
The VAT treatment of donations, grants and sponsorships depends on whether the donor, grantor or sponsor, as the case may be, received any benefit in return for such payments.
o Where any benefit is received in return for the payments, VAT implications will arise.
o However, where no benefit is received, the payments will be treated as outside the scope of VAT as they will not be seen as consideration for a supply.
The VATP011 clarification states where donation and grants do not have any supply, they are considered as out of scope.
Generally, sponsorship will be subject to VAT as there is usually associated supply to such sponsorship.

Pre Vat Orders and post Vat supply
As per the FTA’s statement, the only case where consumers are directly responsible for paying VAT on services are those that were delivered fully or partially after VAT went into effect from January 1 and it was contractually/ stated that the amount due is exclusive of tax.
According to the FTA’s statement, suppliers will be liable for VAT in two cases:
o if the contract states that the amount received against the good or service is inclusive of VAT;
o or if the contract issued to the consumer did not refer to VAT.
In the latter case, when the goods or services recipient is registered for tax, the amount due is treated as exclusive of tax. So the supplier has to ascertain whether the recipient is registered, and the recipient ability to recover tax as per Article 70 of the VAT Executive Regulations.
The authority stressed that in all cases, the supplier remains liable for accounting for the tax and paying it to the FTA.

Bahrain and Utility Bills
A Bahraini lawyer has insisted that the recent decision by the Electricity and Water Authority (EWA) to apply Value Added Tax (VAT) on subscribers’ bills are unconstitutional, demanding immediate cancellation of the decision. This came as lawyer Mohammed Al Thawadi appeared before the High Administrative Court, which is examining a complaint lodged by him against the authority. The court said that it would issue its final verdict in the case on February 24.
In his statements, the lawyer asserted that the decision is unconstitutional, claiming that Articles 15 and 17 of the Constitution of the Kingdom stipulate that taxes should only be imposed through legislation. Mr. Al Thawadi also accused EWA of not adhering to the Unified GCCVAT Agreement.
“Article 29 did not stipulate the imposition of taxes on electricity supply services, but on the contrary, it gave each state the right to exempt some sectors in accordance with local law. “Additionally, Article 30 stipulates the exemption of government bodies from paying taxes, and therefore it is not permissible for the authority to collect taxes.” The lawyer’s last statement came after the authority denied the accusations during the previous hearing.
“The authority does not exercise its functions as sovereign and there is no monopoly of providing electricity and water supply services in the Kingdom,” the authority’s counsel had told the court. Further supporting his accusations against the authority, Mr. Al Thawadi said: “The authority’s claim that it does not operate in a sovereign manner and that there is nothing preventing competition with it from any other party in providing its services is incorrect.

Cloud back ups or on-premise?

February 16th, 2019

Pretty scary.
We have suffered catastrophic destruction at the hands of a hacker, last seen as aktv@94.155.49.9 This person has destroyed all data in the US, both primary and backup systems. We are working to recover what data we can.

Though they’re back up and running, who knows if customers will stick by them, or will sue them.
What impact that had on infrastructure mail servers, backup servers, and SQL Servers for customers is hard to judge.
A large number of people might have lost their mailboxes and previously stored mail that was in IMAP storage.
This is likely an annoyance for individuals, but potentially catastrophic for businesses. Imagine your small business hosted with them and all your mailboxes were lost with customer communications and who knows what else.

Could this happen with a cloud provider like Azure O365, Google Apps or AWS?
Maybe but they will have DR backups,
But what if you store back ups on the cloud but run on premise- how long would it take to mass restore multiple, customers? Do you still have ad3qute on premise test systems to restore on and the staff and the time to do it?

Do you assume that you will always have either a primary server and an online backup server/share/bucket/container and can download data.
The problem is that online systems that connect to the primary can be accessed.
If an attacker were to access one, they potentially could access the second.
The world seems to be moving towards more online storage, or in the case of cloud vendors, a reliance on snapshots. That might be good enough for cloud vendors, but is it good enough for your on-premise system.
It’s likely that an attacker, possibly even with insider help, would wipe out backups first, then primary systems.
Some sort of disconnected offline backup of data, especially database servers gives you a third line of defence.
don’t forget that back up- need to be tested- if the back up software compatible with old versions, does your back up use the same version as the current erp software installed on your primary, or the same SQL version (i.e when you upgrade do you also upgrade your back ups, or maintain an older environment?)

Microsoft and other large vendors have had downtime whether self induced by releasing code too early, or due to hardware failure, or malicious attach . What is important to realise is just how infrequent are just issues given the number of clients they have across a range of solutions, and how little was the downtime and how fast they are at in addressing issues that arise. The think about how you would have been able to deal with the same issues in your own server room?

There are increasing risks, and increasing issues of statutory compliance with regard to data protection e.g, GDPR. The cloud generally offers cheap storage nd robust systems, yet it needs to be part of a holistic approach to reduce overall risk and cost, and not the only line of defence.

What does GDPR mean for Big Data Analytics and AI?

January 27th, 2019

By 2020, there will be an estimated 24 billion internet-connected devices globally – more than four devices for every person. Many consumers have concerns about data privacy and how their data is used and protected (some surveys put this at 90% of users). As businesses learn to extract value from and utilize data at a deeper level, it is essential for companies to be extremely conscientious about protecting personal information.

The recent Google 50 Million Euro GDPR fine posted about on our blog has major implication means for data insight driven companies. Secondary processing of date using iterative analytics and AI needs to remain legal under the GDPR – i,e.GDPR compliant technical and organizational safeguards in place that:

(1) Satisfy a balance of interest test that requires functional separation (to separate the information value of data from the identity of data subjects) to reduce the negative impact on data subjects, so that the data controller’s legitimate interests are not overridden. see Annexures 1 and 2 of this note: https://ec.europa.eu/justice/article-29/documentation/opinion-recommendation/files/2014/wp217_en.pdf

Recent high-profile lawsuits against Oracle and Acxiom make it clear that simply claiming a “legitimate interest” in commercializing personal data is not enough. (see the video here http://fortune.com/2018/11/08/privacy-international-oracle-acxiom/)

(2) Ensure compliance with requirements that the secondary processing is compatible with the original purpose for which the data was collected;

(3) By default restrict access to only the minimum data necessary for each purpose for which it is processed – such Data Minimisation, is a level of granular control and protection that cannot be technologies like encryption alone.

The “Data Privacy Day 2019″, which is tomorrow: Monday 28 January 2019, is led by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) in the United States, is built on the theme, “Respecting Privacy, Safeguarding Data and Enabling Trust.”

SQL Server 2016 SP2 CU5, SP1 CU13 – many fixes

January 25th, 2019

Many fixes inside SP2 CU5 and SP1 CU13, e.g.:
• Access violation when you compile a query
• Access violations and unhandled exceptions with Always On Availability Groups automatic seeding
• Dynamic Data Masking doesn’t when there’s a cursor involved
• Access violations for XML data types
• Query Store blocks transactions and log truncation
• Out of memory errors
• Non-yielding schedulers with heavy use of prepared statements
• Can’t restore compressed backups of encrypted databases
• High CPU usage when there are many batch requests (which we would expect?)
• SQL Server service crashes when you cancel CHECKDB (on a “large database” – doesn’t that apply to all? )
…. lots more

Congratulations to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella – named top CEO in the U.S.A. by Forbes magazine

January 23rd, 2019

Congratulations to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella who was named the top CEO in the United States by Forbes magazine. This honor follows many key successes under his leadership, including the acquisition of GitHub and an increased focus on Microsoft Azure.
For a fascinating insight into how Microsoft has rebuilt itself ‘brick by brick’ under his leadership over the last 4 years, see this Forbes interview form the end of December 2018,

https://www.forbes.com/sites/alexkonrad/2018/12/10/exclusive-ceo-interview-satya-nadella-reveals-how-microsoft-got-its-groove-back/#454c91397acb

GDPR starts to bite

January 22nd, 2019

Google has been hit with a record fine by French data regulator CNIL, of 50m euros ($56.7m) for breaching GDPR after finding that Google had a “lack of transparency, inadequate information and lack of valid consent regarding ads personalisation”.
The regulator also said that the users were not sufficiently informed about how Google users personal data for advertising. The fine relates to two complaints filed by privacy advocacy groups, which were filed as soon as GDPR came into place in May last year. The groups also claim that Google does not not have a valid legal basis to process user data for ad personalisation, as mandated by the GDPR. Google also selects ad personalisation by default for new users, instead of offering an ‘opt in’, which is also against GDPR rules.

Under the GDPR, complaints are transferred to local data protection regulators. While Google’s European HQ is in Dublin, the CNIL concluded that the team in Dublin doesn’t have the final say when it comes to data processing for new Android users.

In a statement, Google said: “People expect high standards of transparency and control from us. We’re deeply committed to meeting those expectations and the consent requirements of the GDPR. We’re studying the decision to determine our next steps.”

The large fine reflect the view thatthe violations were continuous, and still occurring. Google’s violations were aggravated by the fact that “the economic model of the company is partly based on ads personalisation”, and that it is therefore “its utmost responsibility to comply” with GDPR.

Dr Lukasz Olejnik, an independent privacy researcher and adviser, said the ruling was the world’s largest data protection fine. “This is a milestone in privacy enforcement, and the history of privacy. The whole European Union should welcome the fine. It loudly announced the advent of GDPR decade,” he said.

Facebook is also faced with huge fines. Facebook has been fined €10m (£8.9m) by Italian authorities for misleading users over its data practices. The two fines issued by Italy’s competition watchdog are some of the largest levied against the social media company for data misuse, dwarfing the £500,000 fine levied by the British Information Commissioner’s Office in September for the Cambridge Analytica scandal– the maximum that body was able to issue. The Italian regulator found that Facebook had breached articles 21, 22, 24 and 25 of the country’s consumer code by: Misleading users in the sign-up process about the extent to which the data they provide would be used for commercial purposes.

Emphasising only the free nature of the service, without informing users of the “profitable ends that underlie the provision of the social network”, and so encouraging them to make a decision of a commercial nature that they would not have taken if they were in full possession of the facts. Forcing an “aggressive practice” on registered users by transmitting their data from Facebook to third parties, and vice versa, for commercial purposes.

The company was specifically criticised for the default setting of the Facebook Platform services, which in the words of the regulator, “prepares the transmission of user data to individual websites/apps without express consent” from users. Users can disable the platform, but the regulator found that its opt-out nature did not provide a fully free choice. As an additional penalty, the authority has directed Facebook to publish an apology to users on its website and on its app.

In a statement, a Facebook spokesperson said: “We are reviewing the Authority’s decision and hope to work with them to resolve their concerns. This year we made our terms and policies clearer to help people understand how we use data and how our business works. We also made our privacy settings easier to find and use, and we’re continuing to improve them. You own and control your personal information on Facebook.”

On Friday (14 December), Facebook disclosed that a bug gave hundreds of apps unauthorised access to photos that users had uploaded but hadn’t made public. The bug is understood to have ran for 12 days between 13 and 25 September. To compound matter it failed to promptly disclose the issue within 72 hours.

The bug is the latest in a series of privacy scandals. Facebook disclosed a security breach on Sept. 28, saying 50 million accounts had their login access tokens stolen. That figure was reduced to 30 million , and Facebook lconfirmed that 29 million of the impacted users had their names and contact information exposed. Among those users, 14 million of also had other personal information, such as their gender, relationship status and their recent place check-ins, stolen by the attackers. Facebook told the Irish Data Protection Commission that 10 percent of the affected accounts were European, according to Graham Doyle, the commission’s head of communications. the accounts were hacked in an access token harvesting attack. The security incident, revealed last week, was caused by a vulnerability in Facebook’s code which permitted attackers to steal access tokens. Access tokens are used to keep Facebook users logged in when they switch over to a public profile view via the “View As” feature.

A KPMG global study in 2018 revealed that 77% of consumer are totally against their data being sold.

A CNIL ruling in October last yearagaisnt the company Vectuary has a lot of significance. Data privacy experts consider the regulator was stating that consent to processing personal data cannot be gained through a framework arrangement which bundles a number of uses behind a single “I agree” button that, when clicked, passes consent to partners via a contractual relationship. That CNIL decision implies that bundling consent to partner processing in a contract is not, sufficient, or valid consent under the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) framework.

The firm was harvesting personal data (including people’s location and device IDs) on its partners’ mobile users via an SDK embedded in their apps, and receiving bids for this data via another standard piece of the programmatic advertising pipe — ad exchanges and supply side platforms — which also get passed personal data so those can broadcast it widely via the online ad world’s real-time bidding (RTB) system to solicit potential advertisers’ bids for the attention of the individual app user… The wider the personal data gets spread, the more potential ad bids. CNIL discovered the company was holding the personal data of a staggering 67.6 million people when it conducted an on-site inspection of the company in April 2018 and yet Vectuary’s website claims it doesn’t store 70% of its data.

GDPR, Article 5, paragraph 1, point f, requires that personal data be “processed in a manner that ensures appropriate security of the personal data, including protection against unauthorised or unlawful processing and against accidental loss.” If you can not protect data in this way, then the GDPR says you can not process the data. So the complint ius not just about the data or the consent but also about the processing. of the data sharing but rather that it is not adequately secure or controlled.

Get ready for year-end close in Dynamics AX and Dynamics 365 with Synergy Software Systems, Dubai.

December 20th, 2018

There many tasks to be done for the Fiscal year-end closing process.
Those include task for all functions not just finance.
For over 10 years Synergy has conducted Year end training courses to help prepare Dynamics users for their fiscal close.
Our 2 day workshop encompasses:
Key tasks and sequence
Tips and trick
Key reports,
Use of MR and Power Bi
Sales, Supply chain, HR, IT tasks
Hands on practice
The course content applies to almost all versions and will be run in Dynamics Ax 2012 R3. it will however will also introduce the Dynamics 365 Financial closing workspace.

Date: 2 day course: 09.00 – 17.00 8th and 9th Jan 2019
Venue: SYNERGY SOFTWARE SYSTEMS. Al Karama, Dubai.
Ample parking and bus stops and metro nearby.
For a trouble-free and timely, year-end close, book today.
Experienced, expert instructors.