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REITS Association of Kenya Officially Launched

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The REITs Association of Kenya (RAK) has been officially launched in a conference that convened stakeholders in the real estate sector and market stakeholders such as the Capital Markets Authority (CMA), the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) and the Retirement Benefits Authority (RBA).

Players in the real estate and capital markets sectors established RAK in 2017 with the aim of promoting real estate investment trusts (REITs) in the country. Presently, the Association has 14 members that include the Kenya Property Developers Association, the Kenya Association of Stockbrokers and Investment Bankers, NSE, among others.

The launch comes at a time when the Kenyan government is driving the agenda on affordable housing, with an aim of offering Kenyans 500,000 house units.

Speaking at the launch, the Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure, Housing, and Urban Development James Macharia observed that the Ministry is engaging with the National Assembly and the Senate to have the recently rejected housing levy approved. The levy is supposed to be a contribution by employees towards the National Housing Development Fund for the achievement of affordable housing.

The Fund will have a board and proper structures to ensure efficiency and avoid the recurrence of corruption that has taken place in some of the other national funds in the country, Macharia said.

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In addition, the RAK Chairman Edward Kirathe observed that regulators are taking the lead with regards to REITs as opposed to the private sector taking the lead and regulators playing catch-up. “This is a bold initiative,” he said.

Stanlib Fahari I-REIT is the first Kenyan REIT which posted a net profit of Sh171.1 million for the year ended December 2017 compared to Sh106 million in the previous year. Stanlib Fahari I-REIT is listed on the NSE.

REITs To Diversify Investment Options for Kenyans

Currently, investment in REITs stands at only 0.04 per cent with only 19 per cent of REITS contributing to RBA’s assets according to the Authority’s chief executive Nzomo Mutuku.

REITs are good for pension schemes because they increase liquidity, eliminate opacity, make valuation easier, and increase access for small pension schemes to invest in real estate, Mutuku said.

Additionally, REITs offer a great investment opportunity for people with large property assets that are difficult to manage according to RAK Chairman Kirathe.

REITs Regulation

During the launch, the director general of the budget, fiscal, and economic affairs at the National Treasury Geoffrey Mwau proposed a review of the regulation tax gap with regards to REITs through the Finance Bill 2018.

Moreover, Kirathe noted that there is a need for clarification through the Finance Bill 2018 on the law guiding subsidiaries owned by REITs. Currently, REITs are exempt from stamp duty and withholding tax.

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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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