Diesel and electricity prices shot up to the highest this year, the latest statistics show, piling upward pressure on the cost of basic consumer goods whose production is largely dependent on the two commodities.
Data collated by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) indicates that Kenyans were paying 16.71 percent more for a litre of diesel in November compared to a year earlier.
The commodity, used to power farm and industrial machines as well as in public transportation, cost an average of Sh108.97 a litre largely on impact of eight per cent value added tax (VAT ) imposed on September 21 compared with Sh93.37 a year ago.
Households consuming 200 units of electricity paid Sh4,434.48 in November, representing a 12.63 percent increment compared with 12 months before.
Fares have also gone up by more than 10 percent this year, hitting hardest commuters in the major towns, who depend on public transport to travel to and from work daily.
Passengers parted with 10.59 percent more in transport charges to commute to and from their homes to work in Nairobi and other towns, while commuting within a distance of 250 kilometres cost 7.69 percent more on average in November.
KNBS data shows that matatus and city buses charged residents an average of Sh49.84 in November compared with Sh45.07 the year before. Those travelling outside the towns paid an average of Sh431 for a distance of 250 kilometres from Sh400.21 in November 2017.
Fares in Nairobi went up following the implementation of the eight percent value added tax (VAT) on petroleum products, coupled with the increased cost of complying with stringent traffic rules this month, which has seen a slight drop in the number of buses on some routes.
The continued fall in global brent (crude) prices to a 15-month low last Thursday has, however, offered some hope of a possible larger dip in the diesel price in the next monthly review from January 15 than the slight Sh0.55 reduction mid-December.
It has, however, not been all gloom for the consumers with the cost for a kilogramme of maize flour, sugar and beans falling by 30.64 percent, 7.54 percent and 7.05 percent, respectively. This has been attributed to improved weather, which boosted agricultural production.
World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021
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.
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.
Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans
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.
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.
Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets
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.
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.