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Farmers rail at Uhuru for picking politicians to head sugar firms

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Chemelil Sugar Company
The Parliamentary Committee on Implementation inspects ongoing projects at Chemelil Sugar Company on September 28. PHOTO | TONNY OMONDI | NMG 

Sugarcane farmers have lashed out at President Uhuru Kenyatta for appointing politicians to boards of sugar companies, saying the move threatens the recovery of the ailing sector.

They said the move was a clear indication of the government’s lack of commitment to roar back to life the factories which have been run down due to what they termed as poor management and financial impropriety.

Kenya Sugarcane Growers Association (Kesga) general-secretary Richard Ogendo criticised the government for failing to involve them.

“We need to see a paradigm shift and involve farmers among other stakeholders in such boards if the country is to revive some of the collapsed companies,” he said.

He was speaking during a fact-finding mission by the National Assembly’s departmental Committee on Implementation at Chemelil Sugar.

Mr Ogendo cautioned that using state millers to reward political losers will stall reforms in the sector.

He said political interference was the biggest problem affecting the sector, which in its heyday supported thousands of farmers from the sugar belt regions.

“It is unfortunate that farmers continue to suffer at the expense of unscrupulous businessmen who use people from within to import sugar and repackage them in bags belonging to local companies while condemning farmers to abject poverty,” said Mr Ogendo.

But Mr Zedekiah Bundotich, who was appointed as the chairman of Chemelil Sugar Company, expressed confidence that he will use his professional background and experience to turn around the company which has faced myriad of issues.

“As a sales and marketing expert and a politician, I will use my network to lobby the government to address the incessant challenges facing critical stakeholders like the farmers and the staff who are owed huge amounts of money,” he said.

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“I know that the company currently owes workers and farmers Sh200 million after the government issued a Sh300 million bailout last year,” he said.

Mr Bundotich unsuccessfully vied for Uasin Gishu governor seat against Jubilee candidate Jackson Mandago in last year’s general election.

Also in the Chemelil board are former University of Nairobi student leader David Osiany, who contested for the Rongo parliamentary seat and lost to ODM’s Paul Abuor, and Atieno Otieno who vied for Kisumu’s gubernatorial position on a Jubilee party ticket.

At Sony Sugar Company, Mr Owino Likowa who served as Migori MP is the chair. Other politicians in the board include immediate former Awendo MP Jared K’Opiyo, Nyamira politician James Maganda, Ms Doris Donya from Kisii and Ms Winnie Njuguna who was Kirinyaga Woman Rep.

Mrs Anne Anyanga who unsuccessfully vied for Migori governor’s seat in 2013 and 2017 has also been appointed as a board member at Nzoia Sugar Company.

Mr Ogendo told the committee chaired by Narok North MP Moitalel ole Kenta to curb irregular importation to protect the dumping of sugar into the Kenyan market.

The committee is following up on the report released by the House Agriculture committee in 2015 to ensure key proposals on how to revive public sugar mills are implemented.

During their three-day tour of western Kenya, the team visited Mumias, Chemelil, Muhoroni, Miwani and Sony Sugar companies.

Muhoroni MP Onyango Koyoo called on the government to empower the Kenya National Trading Corporation to be the only agency allowed to import sugar.

“We should not allow entities and individuals with vested interests to take over the business of sugar importation,” he said.

Chemelil Sugar MD Gabriel Nyangweso raised concerns that arbitrary importation of sugar has left them with a growing stockpile of unsold sugar, as imports undercut local prices.

Mr Kenta assured farmers that the committee will ensure implementation of the 2015 report.

“We are also going to work with other government agencies like the Assets Recovery Agency to ensure individuals who plundered public resources return them,” he said.

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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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