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Court nullifies taxes collected ahead of passing Finance Bill

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Economy

John Njiraini
John Njiraini, KRA commissioner-general. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Collections of higher taxes imposed on mobile money transfers, kerosene, bottled water and cars before parliamentary approval of the Finance Bill have been declared unconstitutional.

The Treasury used an alternative law to bring into effect the tax contained in the Finance Bill on July 1, prompting activist Okiya Omtatah to contest the higher levies in court.

The Provisional Collection of Taxes and Duties Act allows the Treasury to collect the tax billions it would have missed out on as it awaits parliamentary approval of the tax measures, given that taxes cannot be charged retrospectively in the event that the Finance Bill is passed after the effective date of a particular levy.

Justice Wilfrida Okwany said that Provisional Collection of Taxes and Duties Act (PCTDA) is inconsistent with the Constitution since it allows imposition of the tax even before Parliament passes the Finance Bill. The judge noted that only Parliament has constitutional power to impose tax.

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“I wish to reiterate that the issue for determination before this court is not the constitutionality of the Finance Bill per se but its implementation, on a provisional basis, before the Bill is passed into law,” said Justice Okwany. The judge declared that PCTDA “unconstitutional and therefore invalid, null and void”. The Treasury is allowed to collect the taxes under the PCTDA for up to six months — until January 15, 2019 — although the law allows extension of the period with Parliament’s approval.

Once the Finance Bill is passed and signed into law, the legal notice on tax collection guided by the PCTDA ceases to have effect, and any changes applicable from the newly enacted law apply.

The notice also becomes voided when the National Assembly rejects any sections of the Finance Bill.

Tax experts said the Treasury’s publication of the notice was meant to cover the taxman against possible delay in passing the Finance Bill.

Mr Omtatah yesterday told the Business Daily that any firm or individual who was charged the said tax during the period can ask for a refund, signalling that the battle with the Treasury over early duty collection is not over.

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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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