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Opposition chief under fire for supporting VAT on fuel

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Nasa leader Raila Odinga
Nasa leader Raila Odinga. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Kenyans, including Raila Odinga’s son, have hit out at the opposition chief after he led National Super Alliance (Nasa) MPs in declaring support for President Kenyatta’s proposal to impose eight percent VAT on fuel.

Mr Odinga presided over a meeting of Nasa MPs at Orange House and whipped them into supporting the proposal, albeit with conditions.

And for this, he has angered some the million of Kenyans who are set to bear the brunt of the new taxes.

His son, Raila Junior, was among those Kenyans who took issue with the Nasa’s move.

“Unfortunately as a Kenyan citizen, I am unconvinced by the statement put out by NASA on the VAT on fuel. Noen of the conditions they’ve put up are measurable and even if they were they are nowhere near closing the deficit on the debt. I call for my MP Ken Okoth to reject (President Uhuru’s memorandum to parliament)” he tweeted.

Some Nasa supporters said they read betrayal in Mr Odinga’s move, saying for long, he has been the defender of poor Kenyans.

They accused the ODM leader of “hypocrisy” in his quest for social justice.

“I feel Raila Odinga and his Nasa brigade have betrayed us. How can they support a move that is meant to oppress us? Is this why we voted for them?” said Mr Bramuel Omondi, a resident of Migori.

He added: “Raila has always claimed that he fights for the common mwananchi. This is the platform on which he has been campaigning for the presidency in the last elections. This VAT issue has clearly brought him out as a hypocrite. As an ardent supporter of Raila, I am very disappointed.”

Some of the supporters blamed the move on the handshake between Mr Odinga and Mr Kenyatta.

“If the handshake was meant to make Nasa a government’s lapdog, then it is not helpful to us at all,” said Mr Hesbon Onyango, another Nasa supporter.

“We have known Raila as a man who stands with the people but of late he is not firm on issues that affect mwananchi. He simply supports the government even when it is not right”.

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Scores of other Kenyans took to social media to question Mr Odinga’s 2013 Twitter post in which he opposed heavy taxation.

His post came moments after Parliament had passed the 16 percent VAT that Mr Kenyatta revised to eight percent.

“You cannot grow an economy on taxes,” Mr Odinga tweeted on May 27, 2013.

Asked by Mr Morris Ndegwa on how Kenya should raise development capital, Mr Odinga, in the Twitter thread, responded: “Encouraging and fostering private enterprise.”

“If the government wants to raise revenue, there are better and less painful ways of doing so without making taxation a burden,” he said.

Some Nasa supporters also took issue with the ODM leader’s recent assurance that Mr Kenyatta will listen to the plight of Kenyans.

“You should not panic at all. Very soon the President will scrap off the heavy levy on fuel products. He listens to public outcry,” Mr Odinga said during National Government Affirmative Action Funds Football tournament at Kenyatta Sports grounds in Kisumu.

It is this assurance that scores of Kenyans are citing in their scathing attacks.

“What did he mean when he told us that the president will not allow any increase in fuel taxes? Can we believe his struggle for reforms? ” posed Mr Solomon Ondieki, a Nasa supporter from Nyamira.

Abrasive lawyer Miguna Miguna, who was deported to Canada for presiding over Mr Odinga’s mock swearing-in following the disputed 2017 election, described Mr Odinga as a traitor.

“Mr Odinga is a betrayer. He told Kenyans that president Uhuru Kenyatta will reverse the 16 per cent VAT on fuel and sign into law the Bill Parliament had passed. But President Uhuru rejected the Bill. Mr Odinga, who has been reduced to a lapdog, still supports him,” Mr Miguna said in a tweet.

Mr Obano Ondigi posted: “It’s official, Raila Odinga has sold his soul. His political conscience is firmly controlled by President Kenyatta. He dances to any tune President Uhuru wants. So sad. His legacy is gone.”

Mr Felix Muriithi decried the dearth of opposition in the country.

“The official opposition of Kenya are Kenyans on Twitter. Raila Odinga and Nasa have betrayed Kenyans with handshake. Kenyans will suffer because of handshake was only beneficial to Raila Odinga not Kenyans.”

Isaac Owiti tweeted: “Raila had to support this VAT increase or he refunds the hand cheque.”

Additional report by Patrick Langat.



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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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