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Safaricom scheme gets nod to build road to Sh4bn homes

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Safaricom pension scheme
Safaricom pension scheme official Richard Gitahi (right) explains the Crystal Rivers project to a client. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The Safaricom pension scheme has received approval from roads authorities to link its Sh4.4 billion Athi River homes to the Nairobi-Mombasa highway, easing tenants’ access to facilities such as Nairobi Hospital, Naivas and Java.

The Kenyan National Highways Authority (KenHA) and the Kenya Urban Roads Authority (KURA) gave permission for the construction of a 500 meter tarmacked road.

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The project is nearly 90 per cent complete with 40 per cent of houses sold, while its mall in the gated community is expected to have a 50 per cent occupancy by end of year, says the pension scheme.

The planned road will ease connection between Nairobi-Mombasa highway and the property dubbed Crystal Rivers that sits on 25 acres of land. “We have ramped up the works to ensure that Crystal Rivers will be open to the public by the peak of the December festive season.

“As of now, Naivas is at an advanced stage of fitting out their premises while other tenants such as Java and Nairobi Hospital are in the process of commencing their works,” Safaricom Pension Scheme secretary Richard Gitahi said.

Mr Gitahi spoke at a forum to update home buyers, mall tenants and supervisory agencies on the project and obtain feedback from regulators on its compliance status.

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Kenya to import mitumba after coronavirus pandemic

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LUKE ANAMI

By LUKE ANAMI
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Kenya is set to lift the ban on imports of second-hand clothes once the Covid-19 pandemic is over, the Industry, Trade and Co-operatives Cabinet Secretary Betty Maina has said.

The Cabinet Secretary last Wednesday announced an immediate temporary suspension of the importation of second-hand clothes as a measure to stop importing the SARs-Cov-2 virus that causes Covid-19 disease.

Ms Maina said the action taken is in line with the conditions as set out by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs).

“The government has suspended importation of second-hand clothes with immediate effect to safeguard the health of Kenyans and promote local textiles in the wake of coronavirus,” said Ms Maina.

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“Most of the Mitumba imports come from China and Pakistan, countries which are the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic. The decision is intended to safeguard Kenyans against the spreading of the coronavirus and is therefore a health issue,” she said.

In an interview with the The EastAfrican, Ms Maina said the Kebs will enforce the suspension as we wait for the situation to improve.

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“It is a requirement by the Kebs to take such an action in times of an epidemic like the Covid-19,” she said.

A recent study by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention shows that the virus can stay longer on different surfaces, including clothes.

Ms Maina, however, said the temporary ban will not in any way affect the policy on Mitumba imports from the US.

Under the African Growth and Opportunity Act, Kenya sold about Ksh40 billion ($400m) worth of textiles and clothing to the US.

“This does not in any way affect our policy on our imports from the US. The decision is strictly an urgent measure to curb the spread of the coronavirus,” added Ms Maina.

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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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