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EDITORIAL: Kenyans deserve to know truth about SGR loan deal

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The State cannot hide behind official secrecy
The State cannot hide behind official secrecy while committing errors of the magnitude suggested in SGR loan deal. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

More than 48 hours since a damning audit document emerged on social media indicating that Kenya waived its sovereignty over the Mombasa Port in a 2013 railway loan agreement, the government is still mum.

One gets the impression that the government is banking on a mistaken belief that feeble denials that have so far come from the Transport ministry and Auditor-General’s office are somewhat sufficient to put the matter to rest. Well, that is not so smart.

Kenyans expect detailed explanation from the National Treasury, State Law Office and all the State agencies involved in sealing the lopsided standard gauge railway (SGR) loan agreement with China Exim Bank.

Did government officials take time to read through the fine print before signing on the dotted lines? Why would an independent State waive sovereign immunity over such a strategic national asset to a foreign entity? Why did they pick on Mombasa Port, which handles over 90 percent of Kenya’s international trade instead of Kenya Railways that directly runs the SGR?

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And if the Sh327 billion borrowed for Mombasa-Nairobi section of the SGR has already claimed the country’s sole seaport, what other public assets have we mortgaged or intend to commit for loans to finance remaining phases of the SGR? How about loans for other big ticket projects?

The Executive must come out clearly on these issues if it cares about the concerns of taxpayers, who stand to lose everything in the event these deals go sour.

The State cannot hide behind official secrecy while committing errors of the magnitude suggested in SGR loan deal, and which has the potential to undermine the country’s economic stability on a grand scale.

In any case, the threshold of transparency and public participation in government affairs as set out in the Constitution imply that the National Treasury should have made full disclosure of terms and conditions of the debt in question.

Above all, let Parliament play more than its current peripheral role and start scrutinising foreign debts and even setting limits because the Executive has proven just how profligate it can be. Otherwise, it is defeatist to start creating short cuts to neocolonialism and economic subjugation after 55 years of self-rule.

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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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