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Mastermind seeks to settle Sh1.9bn tax row this month

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Times Tower, Kenya Revenue Authority headquarters. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Mastermind Tobacco will be seeking to start this year on a better note after a dispute with the Kenya Revenue Authority saw it slapped with a Sh1.99 billion tax demand.

The cigarettes maker, owned by business tycoon Wilfred Murungi, on December 17 asked the court to give it more time to finalise the talks that have been ongoing since October.

Lawyers representing Mastermind and the KRA told the High court that they had made progress in the negotiations and asked for more time to reach a consent.

This is the fourth time they were seeking more time since the start of the out-of-court talks.

Mastermind Tobacco had sought court protection after the KRA sent auctioneers to seize its assets over the company’s failure to pay the tax arrears.

“Parties are still negotiating; we ask for mention in January 2019,” Mastermind’s lawyers told the court, a position which the KRA’s counsel agreed with.

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Justice John Mativo directed the suit to be mentioned on January 23 for record of the consent, and extended court orders stopping the KRA from seizing or auctioning Mastermind’s assets.

Mastermind, in the court documents, says the taxman sent a notice of distress on September 19 and instructed auctioneers to attach its assets with a view to recovering the colossal sum.

Mastermind, which makes the Supermatch brand of cigarettes, said it is apprehensive that unless restrained, the auctioneer might attach its entire assets and destroy its business permanently.

Leakey’s Auctioneers had moved in and given Mastermind 10 days to settle the arrears or have its property auctioned. Mastermind went to court seeking orders suspending the demand, pending determination of an appeal it has filed at the Tax Tribunal.

The cigarette firm argues that although the tribunal has the power to suspend the demand, it lacks quorum because only the chairman is in office following the expiry of other members’ tenure in March.

Mastermind has accused the taxman of failing to give it an opportunity to be heard, noting that the demand notice was received on August 31, 2018 and the attachment of its property commissioned three weeks later.

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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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