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City Hall cites State agencies in Sh120bn unpaid land rates

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City Hall cites State agencies in Sh120bn unpaid land rates

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City Hall officials clamp down a building in Nairobi. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NMG 

City Hall has flagged the national government for being one of the biggest defaulters in payment of land rates to the county, accounting for most of the Sh120 billion debt the private and public entities owe the county.

Government institutions including Parliament, Department of Defence, Parliamentary Service Commission, Central Police, National Treasury, Vigilance House and Kenyatta International Convention Centre have been mentioned as some of the biggest culprits.

County head of rates Albert Okiro told the Nairobi County Assembly Budget and Appropriations Committee Monday that only 150,000 properties in the capital pay land rates out of more than 1.5 million.

“The national government is one of the biggest defaulters since it has a lot of properties in the city centre that do not pay land rates to the county with government institutions, some of the parastatals and even all the police stations not paying the rates at all. In total we are owed Sh120 billion in land rates from properties in the city,” he said.

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Mr Okiro said efforts to recoup the debts have hit a snag after the majority of the government institutions resorted to legal battles that have taken long to end.

Robert Mbatia-led committee had summed the official to shed light on City Hall’s failure to meet its revenue targets for the department over the past five financial years since 2013.

Mr Mbatia questioned why City Hall’s rate collections had been falling since 2016 despite being charged at 34 percent.

“Does the county have any scientific way of arriving at these figures so that based on this we can identify the real challenges in the rates sector?” he posed.

This was after it was revealed that the county government has managed to collect only Sh12.9 billion against a target of Sh21billion since 2013.

Committee vice chairman Peter Karani also expressed concern over the dwindling revenues even though City Hall “clamps down” defaulting properties with little success.

In 2017, the county assembly amended the Revenue Act 2015 to give City Hall powers of temporarily repossess defaulting properties.

This financial year, City Hall has collected Sh1.1 billion against a target of Sh4.6 billion with only two months to go.

However, Mr Oriko said challenges such as a lack of title deeds for properties, an aged valuation system and long legal processes had hindered efficient collection of land rates.

“We base the rates we charge on title deeds but most of the properties in Nairobi right now do not have titles, meaning they do not pay their land rates,” he said.

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World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021

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World Bank Group President David Malpass has urged the Group of 20 rich countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative(DSSI) through the end of 2021, calling it one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.

“I urge you to extend the time frame of the DSSI through the end of 2021 and commit to giving the initiative as broad a scope as possible,” said Malpass.

He made these remarks at last week’s virtual G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.

The World Bank Chief said the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the deepest global recession in decades and what may turn out to be one of the most unequal in terms of impact.

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People in developing countries are particularly hard hit by capital outflows, declines in remittances, the collapse of informal labor markets, and social safety nets that are much less robust than in the advanced economies.

For the poorest countries, poverty is rising rapidly, median incomes are falling and growth is deeply negative.

Debt burdens, already unsustainable for many countries, are rising to crisis levels.

“The situation in developing countries is increasingly desperate. Time is short. We need to take action quickly on debt suspension, debt reduction, debt resolution mechanisms and debt transparency,” said Malpass.

ALSO READ:Global Economy Plunges into Worst Recession – World Bank

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Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans

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The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will regulate interest rates charged on mobile loans by digital lending platforms if amendments on the Central bank of Kenya Act pass to law. The amendments will require digital lenders to seek approval from CBK before launching new products or changing interest rates on loans among other charges, just like commercial banks.

“The principal objective of this bill is to amend the Central bank of Kenya Act to regulate the conduct of providers of digital financial products and services,” reads a notice on the bill. “CBK will have an obligation of ensuring that there is fair and non-discriminatory marketplace access to credit.”

According to Business Daily, the legislation will also enable the Central Bank to monitor non-performing loans, capping the limit at not twice the amount of the defaulted loan while protecting consumers from predatory lending by digital loan platforms.

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Tighter Reins on Platforms for Mobile Loans

The legislation will boost efforts to protect customers, building upon a previous gazette notice that blocked lenders from blacklisting non-performing loans below Ksh 1000. The CBK also withdrew submissions of unregulated mobile loan platforms into Credit Reference Bureau. The withdrawal came after complaints of misuse over data in the Credit Information Sharing (CIS) System available for lenders.

Last year, Kenya had over 49 platforms providing mobile loans, taking advantage of regulation gaps to charge obscene rates as high as 150% a year. While most platforms allow borrowers to prepay within a month, creditors still pay the full amount plus interest.

Amendments in the CBK Act will help shield consumers from high-interest rates as well as offer transparency on terms of digital loans.

SEE ALSO: Central Bank Unveils Measures to Tame Unregulated Digital Lenders

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Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets

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NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – Clients trading through the Scope Markets Kenya trading platform will get instant access to global financial markets and wider investment options. 

This follows the launch of a new Scope Markets app, available on both the Google PlayStore and IOS Apple Store.

The Scope Markets app offers clients over 500 investment opportunities across global financial markets.

The Scope Markets app has a brand new user interface that is very user friendly, following feedback from customers.

The application offers real-time quotes; newsfeeds; research facilities, and a chat feature which enables a customer to make direct contact with the Customer Service Team during trading days (Monday to Friday).

The platform also offers an enhanced client interface including catering for those who trade at night.

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The client will get instant access to several asset classes in the global financial markets including; Single Stocks CFDs (US, UK, EU) such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, BP, Carrefour;  Indices (Nasdaq, FTSE UK), Metals (Gold, Silver); Currencies (60+ Pairs), Commodities (Oil, Natural Gas).

The launch is part of Scope Markets Kenya strategy of enriching the customer experience while offering clients access to global trading opportunities.

Scope Markets Kenya CEO, Kevin Ng’ang’a observed, “the Sope Markets app is very easy to use especially when executing trades. Customers are at the heart of everything we do. We designed the Scope Markets app with the customer experience in mind as we seek to respond to feedback from our customers.”

He added that enhancing the client experience builds upon the robust trading platform, Meta Trader 5, unveiled in 2019, enabling Scope Markets Kenya to broaden the asset classes available on the trading platform.

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