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EDITORIAL: Lobbying expenditure must benefit Kenyans

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EDITORIAL: Lobbying expenditure must benefit Kenyans

Marking these expenditures as secret and
Marking these expenditures as secret and refusing to divulge the breakdown can only serve to raise suspicion among members of the public. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Revelations that the country once again overshot the budget in an international lobbying junket sends the wrong message at a time when we are trying to enforce austerity amid a revenue shortfall and rising debt.

Kenya’s decision to spend Sh437.8 million in the bid to capture the African Union Commission chair position for Amina Mohamed was in itself questionable, which makes the revelation that this was Sh52.1 million above budget an even harder pill to swallow.

The confidential expenditure vote at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has always been a grey area, which is prone to abuse if not well checked.

Granted, Kenya must lobby in order to land some of these international posts, and this will inevitably come at a cost to the taxpayer.

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However, marking these expenditures as secret and refusing to divulge the breakdown can only serve to raise suspicion among members of the public that money may have been lost to unscrupulous hands.

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The reason that Parliament, as the people’s representative, has been given oversight over public expenditure is so that the taxpayer can be satisfied that the country’s resources are being utilised in the right way, and in a way that confers maximum benefit to the largest number of citizens.

There are many needy areas that are yet to be sufficiently financed in the country, key among them healthcare, education and infrastructure.

These should take priority over expenditure on lobbying, unless the benefit to Kenyans can be clearly shown.

Kenyans must now be wondering what the true cost of the latest lobbying effort—the campaign for a United Nations Security Council non-permanent seat— will come to.

Under the current laws however, whether or not we are above or below budget, the breakdown will never be known. As such, we are calling for better disclosure around these secret accounts held by government ministries.

This demand is borne out of the expectation that the executive arm of government will lead in enforcing the austerity measures and responsible spending, which is now being demanded by a strained economy.

This will help the taxpayer know whether we are getting value for money, especially in cases such as the AUC effort that yielded a defeat at the final ballot for Kenya’s candidate.

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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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