BusinessCompany NewsAIDS costs impact on UK companies

AIDS costs impact on UK companies

Listed UK companies that operate in South Africa are facing an effective 8% 'tax' due to the economic impact of HIV/AIDS.

Link: Social reporting: The true cost of AIDS

Professor Allan Whiteside, director of the Health Economics & HIV/AIDS research division at the University of Natal, said the disease would ‘add an 8% tax to the cost of doing business’ in South Africa.

Speaking to Accountancy Age, Whiteside said: ‘It is a tax on business as it pushes up the cost of things such as benefits and productivity.’ The warning came as global leaders, including former South African president Nelson Mandela, recognised World AIDS Day on Sunday.

Whiteside voiced his support for the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants, which is preparing the first ever set of draft guidelines on HIV/AIDS reporting, to be presented to the Johannesburg Stock Exchange next year for consideration as a listings requirement.

Nigel Sleigh-Johnson, head of financial reporting at the ICAEW, said the institute was ‘keen on companies providing information that is of interest to readers of financial statements’ and said the efforts of SAICA were ‘significant in the South African context’.

But, while Whiteside claimed it was vital that HIV/AIDS reporting becomes mandatory, Sleigh-Johnson said such information should only be including in the operating and financial review, not in the accounts themselves.

‘It is important not to build too many inflexible requirements,’ Sleigh-Johnson said. Mining giants Anglo American, financial services company Old Mutual and investment bank Investec are all listed on the London Stock Exchange and Johannesburg Stock Exchange..

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