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PS grilled over Sh29 million Portland Cement legal fees

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Betty Maina
Industrialisation principal secretary Betty Maina. FILE PHOTO | NMG  

Industrialisation principal secretary Betty Maina was taken to task by MPs over a Sh29 million legal bill that was slapped on the ministry by lawyers who represented Nairobi Securities Exchange-listed firm East African Portland Cement Company (EAPCC).

Ms Maina told the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that the ministry received the fee note from Iseme, Kamau and Muema advocates who were appointed by former Attorney-General Githu Muigai to represent the ministry on a matter that pitted EAPCC against the Capital Markets Authority (CMA).

Prof Muigai appointed Mr Kamau Karori of the law firm to act for the ministry on the matter of Portland Cement.

“We did receive a fee note of Sh29 million but we didn’t not pay. We forwarded the same to EAPCC to make payments,” Ms Maina told MPs during scrutiny of the ministry’s audited books of account for 2015/16.

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PAC chairman Opiyo Wandayi (Ugunja) and Kiharu MP Dindi Nyoro put Ms Maina on the spot to explain how the government included the Sh29 million bill as part of the ministry’s pending bills.

“Is EAPCC a parastatal under your ministry or is it a private entity? How can you have in your books a bill for a private company where you have minority shareholding?” Mr Nyoro asked.

The cement maker, however, is majority State-owned with the National Social Security Fund owning a 27 per cent stake while the National Treasury’s shareholding stood at 25.3 per cent as at June 30, 2017.

Auditor-General Edward Ouko had also questioned the sum of Sh29,147,652 owed to the elite Nairobi-based law firm.

Ms Maina said the pending legal fee was transferred to EAPCC through a letter dated June 7, 2017.

“Having forwarded the pending bill of Sh29 million to EAPCC, the ministry presumed that the same has been acknowledged and recognised in their financial statements,” the PS said.

Mr Wandayi questioned a letter dated October 14, 2014 by former PS Wilson Songa that committed the ministry to pay the legal fees.

“The PS said the cabinet secretary (CS) has agreed to pay on hourly basis and is working to settle the legal fees. The PS undertook to pay this fees in a letter,” Mr Wandayi.

Ms Maina undertook to look into the matter and report the circumstances under which the Attorney-General appointed the law firm to represent it in 2014.

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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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