The Government is seeking parliamentary approval for Sh3.48 billion towards the controversial Kimwarer dam project, under supplementary estimates to be tabled in the National Assembly in the next few days.
The money is part of Sh95 billion included in the additional budget, according to confidential documents before the National Assembly Budget and Appropriations Committee.
The documents show that the Treasury wants lawmakers to regularise the payment for the project that is under investigation by the Directorate of Criminal Investigation (DCI).
It is not clear if the money is part of the advance payments already wired to the contractor for the dam or additional payment for the development that has seen National Treasury CS Henry Rotich record a statement with the DCI.
Investigative agencies are on the trail of billions allegedly paid for Kimwarer and Arror dams in Elgeyo Marakwet County. The dams were expected to prove hydo-power and water for irrigation for residents of the region, but ran into trouble when it emerged that money had been paid for non-existent projects.
The Treasury has admitted that Sh7.8 billion was paid as advance payment for the dams. The money, according to Mr Rotich, was paid under a facility agreement and commercial contract signed between the Kerio Valley Development Authority and the contractor, Service Assicurativi Del Comercio Estero (SACE) of Italy.
Approval for the payments means that the Treasury will succeed in covering its tracks in the ongoing investigations.
Although the law allows the Government to spend money on emergency projects and later seek approval from the House, a look at majority of the projects listed in supplementary shows that not all were ‘emergency or unforeseen.’
The largest chuck of the money sought by the Treasury is towards payment of pending bills for the construction of the Standard Gauge Railway (Sh50 billion).
Others are towards payment made to Government Advertising Agency (Sh700 million), Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Sh644 million), Last Mile connectivity programme (Sh1 billion) and Regional Pastoral Resilience Projects (Sh1.7 billion).
Others are Technical and Vocational Education and Training Authority (Sh1 billion), maize payments to farmers (Sh2.1 billion) and another Sh 1 billion drawn from the Contingency Fund to cater for victims of last year’s floods.
There is also payment for lawyers representing the country in the ongoing maritime dispute between Kenya and Somalia, among other items.
Money sought by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is for expenses during the blue economy conference that took place last year. The conference is estimated to have cost roughly Sh800 million.
Members of the Budget committee who met yesterday expressed concern over items in the supplementary budget, arguing that the committee is toothless in dealing with the Treasury, which is in the habit of asking Parliament to approve money already spent or listing items that do not fall under emergencies.
Members were also concerned that the Treasury has been tabling the supplementary too close to the main budget.
“What teeth does this committee have against Treasury? We are repeating the same mistakes. What are the powers of this committee on these breaches,” asked Mark Nyamita (Uriri).
Makali Mulu (Kitui Central) argued that it is unreasonable to present a supplementary budget just two months before the main budget.
He said ‘the committee has powers to bite,” noting that only two items in the proposed supplementary meet the ‘emergency’ threshold anticipated in law.
World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021
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.
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.
Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans
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.
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.
Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets
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.
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.