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Businessmen at Mombasa port protest multiple taxation : The Standard

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Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) businessmen in Mombasa are up in arms over multiple taxations of imported goods at the Port of Mombasa. 

The importers said they are faced with loss of business due to the multiple charges by OGEFREM, their equivalent of the Kenya Maritime Authority (KMA).
Led by their representative Mr Kambale Mukokoma, the Congolese businessmen stated they would soon be forced to ground their clearing and forwarding activities over the multiple taxations unless their concerns were addressed. 
Mukokoma noted since the arrival of OGEFREM in Mombasa, Congolese cargo transiting through the port of Mombasa have been confronted and subjected to many taxes before loading for final destination to the DRC. 

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The importers said they were not consulted and were therefore not party to the decisions to pay extra taxes which they claim will add to the cost of doing business. 
“Today we regret once again that OGEFREM has blocked the release of our containers because we have categorically refused to pay twice for the same document called FERI while shippers have paid approximately $300 for it from the port of origin,” he said.
He added that all these are being done ostensibly to help in the monitoring of Congo-bound cargo. 
He said importers have to pay $50 annual registration fee for each economic operator using the port of Mombasa, 1.8% of the amount of ocean freight of all cargoes to DRC, $250 per container for the so called electronic form commonly called FERI, $20 for certificate of destination and 5 per cent of customs fees are collected by OGEFREM once the goods arrive at their destination. 
‘All these charges are subjected to the Congo cargo passing through the port of Mombasa saying that the purpose is to monitor goods destined for Congo’ said Mukokoma.

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He disclosed that OGEFREM operations in neighbouring Tanzania were suspended at the Port of Dar es Salaam following outcry by the Congolese business community. 
Mukokoma said they are forced to pay more to clear their cargo as a result of the long delays associated with the winding processes. 
He said as a result of the inordinate delays, importers from Congo pay more for ship demurrage charges and the trucks hired to evacuate goods from the port to the eastern parts of the DRC.Mukokoma says OGEFREM company taxation has forced some Congolese Members to divert their good through the port of Dar es salaam.
The DRC clearing agents are now calling on the Kenya government to dismantle what they termed as illegal cartel which is taxing them illegal fees as ferry charges.
Mukokoma is saying if the issue of illegal taxation is not addressed they will be forced to relocate their businesses to the port of Dar er salaam. 

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Jomvu Member of Parliament, Mr Badi Twalib joined the Congolese clearing and forwarding agents in their protests saying the move by OGEFREM would disrupt business and threaten commerce in Mombasa. 
Twalib called for a quick resolution of the problems raised by the Congolese businessmen saying issues of multiple taxations would increase demurrage charges and consequently the cost of doing business. 
The MP who received a petition from the Congolese promised to raise up the matter with the Parliamentary Committee on Transport in a bid to unlock the stalemate that threatens to cripple business and affect livelihoods in Mombasa. 
Twalib warned that the cumbersome processes and taxations Congolese importers have to go through at the Mombasa port before clearing their transit cargo are graduating turning the port into an unattractive destination for doing business. 
”The concerns they have raised are genuine and the Kenyan authorities need to step in as multiple and high taxations go against the government’s vision of creating enabling environment for private businesses to grow,” he said. 

SEE ALSO :Taxi firm faces bumps ahead of public listing

He said the businessmen were worried that the requirement meant great additional handling charges while they were already overburdened with inordinate transit taxes that are more exorbitant.  

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TaxOGEFREMKenya Maritime AuthorityDRC

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Standard, Safaricom in pact to sell digital newspapers: The Standard

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The Sh20 price per newspaper includes data usage, meaning a customer’s data bundle will not be consumed when reading through each paper.


Safaricom has partnered with The Standard Group and other media houses in a deal that will see newspapers made available to smartphone users at Sh20 per issue.
The amount will be deducted from the customer’s airtime, enabling them to buy and read newspapers on the go for seven days. “We are pleased to be part of this initiative, which is a demonstration of our commitment to fuse journalistic creativity with digital innovation in a collaborative venture that we hope will bring value to our esteemed readers and give customers easy access to our newspapers during the pandemic period,” said The Standard Group Chief Executive Officer Orlando Lyomu.
The Sh20 price per newspaper includes data usage, meaning a customer’s data bundle will not be consumed when reading through each paper.

SEE ALSO: Safaricom closes TRM shop after staff catches Covid-19

Mobile phone
No registration or signup will be necessary, neither will customers be requested to download and in-stall any application.
“The world is quickly evolving to be digitally-led and we see our customers increasingly seeking ways in which they can achieve their goals by tapping into the convenience of their smartphone,” said Safaricom Chief Executive Peter Ndegwa. “We are glad to partner with media houses to digitise the newspaper channel and make them available on the mobile phone.”
The service can be accessed by visiting Safaricom.com and selecting the “Discover” option followed by “Newspapers.”
Nation Media Group Chief Executive Stephen Gitagama said the firm will continue to explore different solutions to keep its readers informed.

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SEE ALSO: Sanda Ojiambo becomes first African at the helm of UN agency

Customers can also dial *550# to purchase the newspapers. The Standard Group newspapers include The Standard, Saturday Standard, Sunday Standard and The Nairobian.

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More workers lose jobs as corona sinks hotels: The Standard

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However, others such as PrideInn Hotels say they are planning to reopen this month.


Serena Hotels has sent its entire staff on unpaid leave starting this month as effects of Covid-19 pandemic continue to sink the hospitality industry.
Serena joins a growing list of premier hotels hard hit by the deadly virus with their mainstay –tourism, events and conferences – having dried up owing to restrictions in travel and other measures meant to curb the spread of the virus.
Serena Hotels Managing Director Mahmud Janmohamed described the business as being in a “desperate situation” adding that all indications were “clear” that their units would remain shut this month.

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“All staff will from 1st June 2020 take unpaid leave until further notice. However, for the month of June 2020, Sh10,000 only, less National Social Security Fund and the National Health Insurance Fund deductions,” said Janmohamed in a memo to staff.
“It is our sincere hope that you understand the desperate situation that we are all in and support this decision.”
Essential staff
Serena Hotels was last month forced to shut down about 10 of its lodges and camps in Kenya and Tanzania hoping to reopen on June 15, 2020.
Janmohamed said essential staff required to be on duty on a regular basis will be paid 30 per cent of their salary for the month of June.
He added that staff needed on a rotational basis to keep the properties serviced would only be paid for the days worked.
All major hotels in Kenya have temporarily closed since March following suspension of flights and restrictions imposed by the government.
Last week, owners of the iconic Fairmont Norfolk announced they were shutting indefinitely and would fire all employees as the pandemic bites.
The Fairmont Hotels and Resorts said they are going to close Fairmont The Norfolk and Fairmont Mara Safari Club.
Other top hotels that have halted operations owing to the Covid-19 pandemic include Nairobi’s Tribe Hotel, Ole Sereni and DusitD2.
However, others such as PrideInn Hotels say they are planning to reopen this month.
Those that reopen, however, have to institute strict operating procedures, including social distancing and frequently sanitising premises to ensure safety.
President Uhuru Kenyatta has hinted on plans to re-open the economy and is expected to make a key announcement to that effect this Saturday after the current dawn to dusk curfew expires.
He announced a Sh53.7 billion stimulus package meant to cushion the country from the economic rampage caused by Covid-19. Part of the money will go towards cushioning the tourism industry and will be used to provide soft loans to hotels.

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SMEs receive fresh guarantees to ease repayment of loans

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SMEs receive fresh guarantees to ease repayment of loans

Akinwumi Adesina
African Development Bank president Akinwumi Adesina. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The African Guarantee Fund (AGF), a non-bank financial institution jointly owned by the Danish and Spanish governments as well as the African Development Bank (AfDB), is to guarantee small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to have their loans with commercial banks restructured.

The AGF Covid-19 Guarantee facility will allow SMEs to pay less over a given period than what they had been paying and therefore cope better in the face of the Covid-19.

“African Guarantee Fund for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (AGF) has announced its Covid-19 response aimed at reducing the uncertainties facing financial institutions in Africa as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic.

“AGF’s Covid-19 response is built on the imperative need for commercial solutions over and above the regulatory efforts already provided by the various central banks and governments in the continent,” said the AGF in a statement.

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“The African Guarantee Fund’s response sets the platform for economic stabilisation, followed by an economic revival through AGF’s newly developed Covid-19 Guarantee Facility that will, firstly, provide more comfort to financial institutions to restructure facilities that become non-performing because of Covid-19 and, secondly, provide commercial stimulus to the financial sector with the aim of mitigating the deterioration of SMEs’ perceived risk.”

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The AGF, however, did not reveal the amount set aside for guaranteeing the SMEs nor did it give any criteria to be used in determining which entities qualify.

Kenyan banks have been restructuring loans held by their clients in recent months, but so far the amount whose terms have been so changed is still less than Sh200 billion out of an industry loan portfolio of over Sh2 trillion.

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