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Is it reasonable to ban 262 pesticides?

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Ideas & Debate

Is it reasonable to ban 262 pesticides?

The ‘butterfly effect’ is no longer a new idea, first put forward in 1972 by Edward Lorenz, who realised that tiny changes could have a huge impact. His one idea now sits within the much broader chaos theory, which ascribes everything that happens to cause-and-effect relationships, but with so many causes and variables that each can be close to impossible to spot individually.

A more popular idea springs from the same well as the tipping point, put forward by Malcolm Gladwell, which is the moment when many, many small changes move us off into a different direction and set of outcomes.

And so it is with Kenyan politics today, that very many changes, across a new constitution, greater education, multiple laws and organizational developments, have put us into a place of great vulnerability to a butterfly effect or tipping point.

For every action has consequences: yet we have empowered individual activists to overturn entire ranks of legislation, without building enough checks and balances on the consequences.

For sure, we have begun, with the Statutory Instruments Act, passed in just 2013, that lays out the case building that must support any law or regulation proposed by the government. It requires an impact assessment.

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Before we get overly excited about that, the impact assessment can be poor. Indeed, some notable ministries barely nod towards it, replacing it with a couple of paragraphs saying a problem exists, with nothing to show how the new regulation resolves it.

As a foundation for large actions, this is akin to the kind of policy process that spots a pest, introduce another species to squash it, and then the new species creates a way bigger problem than the one it was brought in to eradicate.

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Yet, despite the relative weakness of our still-new impact assessment mechanism, our politicians are finding whole circuits around even those requirements.

A prime example is the current petition to parliament seeking to ban 262 pesticides in Kenya. We have a procedure and organisation to screen out pesticides that could be cancerous or dangerous, staffed by scientists and backed by Sh23 billion of tests per chemical.

But a clutch of NGOs against all pesticides have petitioned seeking a ban outside the approvals process, and the parliamentary Health committee has been considering the matter, as a group of politicians not designed to approve or ban pesticides. Thus, they didn’t remember to ask why the US uses these 262 pesticides as safe. They also forgot to check where these pesticides are used, to stop which pests and save which crops, aiding which livelihoods.

After all, if you’re a politician and heading off for a hearty Christmas from your Nairobi home in Runda, Ridgeways, or Kitisuru, how painful really is the 40 per cent of crops and harvests, yields and incomes at play here? Why even assess the impact? So, we have the equivalent of the French Revolution: let the people eat cake.

We don’t even care to research how many families might starve as a consequence. And that’s life, outside the statutory instruments’ rigour of an impact assessment.

Nor are our food security-ending petitioners alone in seeking action outside the normal legislative process of impact assessment. Also in health – seemingly our current black spot for statutory adventurism – we currently have the private member’s bills placed by a single MP – where the ministries of Agriculture and Health could never agree on a shared government version – for a food and drugs authority.

The plan for a Sh4 billion-plus spend to create the new authority, disband five government agencies, manage 10 more, and leave seven further agencies operating in the same space, but independently, is supposed to give us greater food safety.

But not one word of how, of what problems it solves, or on the impact of all those changes: it’s just a blank.

And thus we stand at risk. An MP, a petitioner, alone, in this system, they can kill thousands, untested and unchecked. Our parliamentarians will become pesticide-approval scientists, our MPs will rule on new authorities without a single sentence on what they add and how compared with our bureau of standards and 22 other agencies. So now watch the butterfly effect.

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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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