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Factories risk fine for illegal tea buying

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Factories risk fine for illegal tea buying

A tea picker in Gathehu Village, Nyeri County. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI 

Tea factories risk Sh10 million fine for buying and ferrying produce from unregistered small-scale growers in a proposed law that seeks to weed out hawking.

Amendments made to the Tea Bill of 2018 in the National Assembly introduces penalties for factories that buy the commodity from unregistered farmers or dealers.

Those in breach face a fine of Sh10 million, a 10-year jail term or both.

The penalty is expected to limit against tea hawking and theft of the crop in farms, which has ultimately hurt farmers’ earnings.

“A person commits an offence if the person manufactures tea for sale in contravention of this Act, buys, sells, offers for sale, transports or has possession of tea, which to the person’s knowledge or belief has been grown, manufactured or processed otherwise than in accordance with this Act, is from a non-registered grower or dealer of such crop,” says amendments to the Tea Bill.

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“A person who commits an offence under subsection (1) shall be liable, on conviction, to a fine not exceeding ten million shillings or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years, or both.”

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Tea Bill of 2018 was passed by Senate last year and is now before the National Assembly because it also affects the National government.

Theft of the tea leaves through break-ins at factories and illegal plucking on the farms are some of the biggest challenges facing the sector.

Farmers in Bomet and Kericho counties have been grappling with theft of tea at night since last year as thieves target the green leaves that are in turn sold to other factories.

Brokers have also been buying the crop from farmers on the cheap for sale to factories, depressing farmers pay.

The stiff penalties come amid growing concerns of farmer exploitation where tea growers continue to grapple with diminishing earnings due to exploitation by unscrupulous traders and factories.

Lawmakers have also directed that tea growers provide all information to the factories to weed out those who have scaled up to growing the crop on large-scale.

The proposal is meant to kick out cartels buy tea from farmers and sell it to factories, purporting it has come from their farms.

Farmers who will fail to provide updated information that includes the size of their farms risk a Sh1 million fine or two years in jail if found in breach of the requirement.

Tea sector has in recent years hit lows mainly on diminishing returns to farmers with the State targeting the giant Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) in reforms meant to increase farmers’ earnings.

President Uhuru Kenyatta earlier in the year ordered an overhaul of the giant KTDA that manages 69 tea factories — processing and selling tea on behalf of the 612,000 small-holder growers affiliated to it.

Lawmakers have also set their eyes on plantation tea farmers and imposed a Sh2 million fine or two years in jail on all growers who fail to register their factories with the yet to be established Tea Board of Kenya.

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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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