Here is my take on the populist crusade by Muranga governor Mwangi wa Iria to impose a 25 per cent levy on water from Ndakaini Dam, Nairobi’s main source of water.
We need to come up with ways of disabusing county governments and their leaders of the notion and mindset that makes them believe that they have special and superior rights and entitlement to national assets.
We should not allow county governments and governors to behave as if they have rights to levy charges and fees on national assets located within their territories as they choose.
The ordinary man and woman from Muranga should not be deceived into believing that they deserve special rights over either Ndakaini Dam or the Northern Collector Tunnel project?
Populist crusades like the one going on in Muranga- and especially those that are based on emotive and parochial claims and where communities and tribes are mobilised to fight for perceived rights tend not only to gain support but also spread like wild fire.
Mr was Iria and other Muranga leaders behind the crusade must be stopped. They must be reminded that Ndakaini Dam is a national asset financed and built by the taxpayer.
Murang’a County should be proud that they are hosting this key national asset on behalf of the rest of Kenyans.
Indeed, the big risk in the crusade by Muranga leaders is that it is the kind of campaign that can easily be picked up and copied by populists from other parts of the country.
For example, what if a county like Mombasa demanded to introduce levies on Mombasa Port? Do we really want to encourage the County of Mombasa- and all the people living in the counties where the goods and freight from the port must travel through before they reach Nairobi to Kampala and Kigali to also start imposing levies?
The County of Mombasa cannot claim special rights over the port because we have all agreed as a country that it is a national asset.
And, we recognise that as a facility, Mombasa port cannot exist as a commercially viable entity in isolation and without the rest of the country.
The only reason the port exists and survives as a commercial viable entity is the demand for cargo services from regions outside the County- Nairobi, Kampala, Kigali.
Similarly, Ndakaini Dam only became viable because financing costs are being paid for by water consumers.
If we are not careful and if we capitulate to the demands of the Murang’a leaders, the country risks being overwhelmed by similar demand from other counties.
What these leaders are seeking is a recipe for total confusion.
If the government were to be forced to allow Lamu County to impose levies on the Lamu Port and on all the projects being built there under Lapsset, the proposed national infrastructure projects may not see the light of day.
Today, most of the oil discoveries we have made are in Turkana County.
But we all know that after that oil has been sucked out of the wells, it has to be transported by pipeline to refineries and by ships to markets where it eventually sold.
If we allow wa Iria and company their way, what should we do just in case leaders from the counties that neighbour Turkana-namely- Trans Nzoia and Baringo – start mobilising communities to demand to be paid millions of shillings before they can allow the oil pipeline from Turkana to pass through their counties.
The central government must move in strongly to assert its authority and protect national infrastructure projects from machinations of this new breed of populists and rent-seeking elites from Murang’a County.
World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021
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.
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.
Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans
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.
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.
Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets
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.
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.