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NCPB at risk of losing Sh8bn maize stocks

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National Cereals and Produce Board
National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) silos in Nakuru. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) could lose Sh8.5 billion worth of maize in its strategic food reserve (SFR) that is already yellowing and browning in the silos less than one year after it was bought from farmers.

NCPB acting managing director Alvin Sang told the Senate that the SFR board, which is required to make critical decisions such as selling the stock, is currently dysfunctional, leaving the 3.6 million bags of maize at the risk of going to waste.

“We are in the process of removing the maize that is yellowing or browning in the silos, but we want the SFR to give us authority to repackage and create space,” said Mr Sang, who was accompanied by Crop Development principal secretary Hamadi Boya said.

Mr Sang told the committee chaired by Uasin Gishu Senator Margaret Kamar that the NCPB requires funds to upgrade its silos and keep maize for more than six months. “We have advised them (SFR) to sell the maize in Kisumu because there is market there. Unfortunately it cannot be sold at Sh3,200 as it was bought because market price has dropped to between Sh1,500 to Sh2,000,” he said.

Mr Sang said the 3,626,973 bags of maize in the SFR on April 18, 2018 included 300,000 bags of maize that was imported from Mexico in the last crop season.

A total of 10.5 million bags of maize were imported from Mexico during the duty free maize importation window between May and December 2017.

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Mr Sang said NCPB has so far paid farmers Sh8,053,320,000 leaving Sh3,575,854,400 as pending bills of which Sh1.4 billion will be paid as soon as the multi-agency team working on the issue identities the real farmers.

“Some of the maize we have in our silos has stayed for more than the recommended period of six months. The maize we are holding is about nine months old but is becoming yellowish and brownish, making it unattractive to millers who may not buy it,” Mr Sang told an ad-hoc committee that is investigating importation of maize during last year’s duty free window that opened in July and closed in December 2017.

Mr Sang said lack of a functional SFR board and its failure to meet has rendered NCPB incapable of removing and packaging maize in the silos for storage in other locations.

The NCPB said it has empty space at several of its 110 stores countrywide with a capacity to hold 21.52 million bags.

The board also has silos in the grain basket region and Nairobi with a storage capacity of 3,090,000 bags — excluding Cypress Bins of about 1.5 million 90kg bags.

Mr Sang said the SFR has to get Cabinet approval to dispose of the maize at lower than Sh3,200.

“This will take long and it’s a dilemma for the Ministry of Devolution. The maize is still good for human consumption, but the colour has changed,” said Mr Sang.

He said NCPB wants the Agriculture ministry to allow the board to buy gunny bags and move the maize to empty silos across the country given that SFR must foot the bill of the bags and guide NCPB on where the maize should be moved to.

Mr Sang said Agriculture secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri has committed to filling the vacant board posts to enable the agency fulfil its mandate.

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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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