Kenyans have paid MPs Sh1.2 billion for house allowance without the approval of Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC), the High Court was told yesterday.
Attorney General Kihara Kariuki, in his response to a row between SRC and the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) over allowances, said taxpayers have shouldered Sh104 million every month for lawmakers’ house allowance.
According to the AG, it was illegal for MPs to get an additional Sh250,000 each in house allowance as PSC never consulted SRC and the money was not approved.
The court heard that lawmakers have pocketed the disputed allowances for a year now, as they were backdated to October 5, 2018.
The AG, SRC, Law Society of Kenya (LSK) and activist Okiya Omtatah want the court to force PSC to deduct the money paid and return the same to the Treasury.
The case was filed by SRC before Justices Pauline Nyamweya, Weldon Korir and John Mativo, and they argue that MPs receive 40 per cent of their gross salary as consolidated allowances, which caters for all the pay they are entitled to.
“In cognisance of Parliament’s immense power, the Constitution includes checks to limit and effectively restrain Parliament’s power in determining members’ remuneration. Indeed, pay for all State and public officers is a constitutional issue. No person or State organ can determine their remuneration and, therefore, we urge the court to declare the action of PSC to award members a house allowance of Sh250,000 unconstitutional, thus null and void,” senior State counsel Thande Kuria argued.
At the same time, SRC’s lawyer Peter Wanyama told the court that MPs bulldozed the commission to ratify 19 allowances for themselves. The lawyer sensationally claimed that in retaliation, Parliament went ahead to slash SRC’s budgetary allocation. SRC employees, he said, do not have tea in the office as a result of the cut by MPs.
The PSC, on the other hand, wants the court to declare that SRC discriminated against them and that MPs are entitled to good pay.
The commission also wants the court to declare SRC’s 2013 Gazette notice which spells out MPs’ pay and allowances as unconstitutional. They also want to lift the current limit on sittings. SRC had limited the sittings to 16 times a month.
The MPs argued that salaries earned by MPs in the 11th Parliament ought to be retained on the basis of the high cost of living. and the fact that their predecessors used to earn more.
According to MPs, salaries and allowances set in 2013 have not been increased despite economic changes.
“By seeking to reduce the remuneration for State officers serving in 12th Parliament, the respondent has acted unreasonably and failed to take into account the rising cost of living since the remuneration and benefits were set in 2013. They failed to take into account the principle of equal pay to work of equal value,” PSC argued.
The judges heard that the composition of PSC leads to a conflict of interest as it would amount to MPs allocating themselves salaries.
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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.