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Kenyans warn MPs that 2022 election is coming as they mull over Uhuru’s 8% VAT proposal

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The government risks losing about Sh100 billion it badly needs to fund this year’s budget if MPs gang up to shoot down President Uhuru Kenyatta reservations on the Finance Bill.

Among areas targeted in the memorandum include the eight percent levy on fuel products that will see about Sh17.5 billion realised, sugar confectioneries (Sh475 million), money transfers (Sh11.4 billion), betting companies and winners (Sh30 billion), the housing fund (Sh10 billion) and kerosene (Sh9.8 billion).

HUGE DEFICIT

On Tuesday, the National Treasury presented supplementary estimates to the House, proposing to slash its Sh3.026 trillion budget by about Sh55 billion.

If the MPs make good their threat to shoot down the president’s proposals during a special sitting on Thursday, it will leave the government sweating over how it will plug the huge deficit in the budget.

Of the entire budget, the Kenya Revenue Authority is only able to raise about Sh1.6 billion in ordinary revenue – including VAT on fuel products that the MPs have openly opposed on account that it will overburden the already overtaxed Kenyans.

Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich when he appeared before the Finance and National Planning Committee of the National Assembly on September 19, 2018. PHOTO | FILE

On Tuesday, President Kenyatta formerly cited his reasons to MPs for returning Finance Bill, 2018 to MPs for reconsideration.

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The bill – which was passed two weeks ago – gives the government the legal framework to finance its budget.

ROTICH’S PLEA

Yesterday, National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich pleaded with the MPs to consider the bill with the President’s proposed changes.

“We reformed the tax law in 2013 because almost everything – about 435 items were tax exempt. This was done to expand the tax base because over time, we have been losing revenue because of the narrow tax base,” Mr Rotich told the MPs.

The committee chaired by Kipkelion East MP Joseph Limo is considering the president’s memorandum on the bill that has also proposed to delete the 0.05 percent ‘Robin Hood’ tax, which had been proposed on money transfers of at least Sh500,000.

The CS instead announced that the government plans to recoup lost revenue through the 20 percent imposed on the charges the banks levy customers in money transfers, meaning that the transfer charges could still go up.

There is also a new proposal to increase the price of kerosene by Sh18 per litre, to check adulteration of fuel, as well as split the current 35 percent tax on betting companies to include the winners.

MITIGATION MEASURES

READ ALSO:   Uhuru appoints former ODM official into cabinet as Hassan Omar misses out

But even as the government does this, it is yet to put mitigation measures – zero rating of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and increasing cheap electricity connection, to cushion the poor from the high prices.

Currently, the government is only able to raise about Sh8.7 billion in the betting industry.

This will see betting companies charged 15 percent on top of the 30 percent charged in terms of corporate income and winners 20 percent.

“This is a punitive taxation measure. If you want to engage in the luxury of betting, you give the exchequer money,” Mr Rotich said.

THE VOTE

The committee is required to table a report recommending its adoption or rejection on Thursday morning.

It will require at least two- thirds or 233 of the 349 MPs to either alter the president’s view or shoot it down all together.

The MPs were also united against the taxes on sugar confectioneries, arguing that it will make the country uncompetitive in the region in terms of manufacturing – sweets, candies, biscuits, chocolate and other products.

“Why discourage local manufacturers?” Mr Limo posed. “Kenya is the centre of confectionery in the East African region. This levy may lead to uncontrolled importation,” he said.

READ ALSO:   Uhuru should read this before handing over JKIA to Kenya Airways

Mr Rotich explained that the levy on the confectioneries is one of the sin taxes imposed by the government to regulate the consumption of such products.

He argued that the cost of treating complications related to the consumption of the products far outweighs the benefits.

“We are here complaining about the tax yet we are spending more on health challenges. By discouraging this, you are protecting the health of Kenyans, including children. This provision is meant to raise revenue for development,” Mr Rotich said.

“These are the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) and it is where the world is headed.”

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Why ignorance of finer details hurts lazy home buyers

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Who does not want to own a home one day? It is the endeavour of nearly every family. It is a pride, an achievement if I may. Yet we make careless mistakes at the tail of the tedious sweat to the realisation of this dream. Let me first put things into perspective; our construction ecosystem remains stubbornly fractured and dysfunctional. It is highly fragmented and very conservative.

Ingrained practices make it incredibly punitive and unforgiving. Before deciding to buy a house, you must wake up to this realisation.Most home buyers are lazy, careless and easily gullible.

They are, by large, only fixated with house prices and retreat to their ‘paradise’ cocoon once the house price makes sense to them. This attitude has been the icing to spurious developers. Listen, buying a house, especially off-plan, requires vigilance.

a`There are several boxes that must be closely monitored and ticked. Unfortunately, one of the critical boxes that always evades most buyers is the defects liability period. Many have and still painfully paid for this ignorance.

Requirements

Defects liability period, mostly six months, is a period of time following the practical completion during which a contractor remains liable under the building contract for dealing with any defects that become apparent. This period is fixed in a building contract between a developer and client. It can never be altered to suit a buyer.

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Once the period has lapsed, the contractor’s liability to rectify defects on your house lapses. Unknown to most buyers, the defects liability period always begins with the architect’s practical completion certificate to the contractor. It starts even before the occupation certificate is obtained. In fact, the architect’s practical completion certificate is one of the requirements for obtaining a county’s occupational certificate. Yet buyers normally take their sweet time to access their houses, after construction completion, unaware that the contractor defects liability period awaits no one.

Not even the developer.In some instances where final house payments are pegged on occupation certificate, the practical completion certificate, which instigates the defect liability period, can be irregularly and prematurely issued before actual completion of works so that a ‘broke ‘developer start to receives money from buyers.

How? Our long outstanding ethics deficit history as a country. Several times I have come across home buyers who ignorantly insist that the defects liability period be counted from the date they take possession of their house.Ignorance has driven many to complicate even the irreducibly simple. It is impossible to tailor defects liability period to each buyer.

Imagine the chaos of doing so to 100 buyer. The defects period will always rise and set on all at the same time – make peace with that. It is imperative to always note this as a buyer and insist then on seeing the architect’s certificate of practical completion to know when the defect period begins and lapses. Engrave those dates somewhere if you can’t memorise. Even on projects with sectional occupation certificate, ask for the practical completion certificate that was used to obtain the sectional occupation certificate.

READ ALSO:   VIDEO: Raila recognizes Uhuru as president in surprise statement

Once you have immaculately noted the defects liability period, please carry out and document all the house snags issues and ensure they are rectified within the period. In situations where access to your house is pegged to clearance of final payment, request the developer access to allow you snag the house for any noticeable defects to be rectified.

Avoid running into cat and mouse games with the developer once this period has lapsed. There will be only one loser. You. For the umpteen time, the defects liability period will not be tailored to your wish as a buyer, it’s a contractual period that is fixed.

There will not be even an extra day added to it. I appreciate that the greatest struggle in mankind is that against ignorance, but this can no longer be classified as ignorance, especially in 2019. We cannot keep making the same mistakes over and over. Be wise or perish! – The writer is chairman of Association of Construction Managers of Kenya. nashon.okowa@gmail.com

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Business

Life in the skies: I globetrot for a living

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Mariam Ali is living her dream. Imagine working at 37,000ft in a jet cruising at 900Km/h, mingling with all kinds of people? A dream job, right? Well, this is what Mariam does for a living. Her journey began at Fly Dubai as a member of the cabin crew, before joining Emirates in 2015 as the airline’s business class hostess.

So, what does the job of a global airline’s cabin crew entail? And what is it like to globetrot to and from work?

‘‘My main job is to ensure the passengers aboard are comfortable and safe. It’s also my responsibility to ensure passengers have the best experience during the journey by attending to all their needs,” she says.

‘‘Some journeys, such as Dubai to New York, are very long, sometimes lasting more than 10 hours. This can get boring and exhausting, so it’s important to ensure passengers are happy and relaxed.”

This job has offered her travel opportunities to places she had never dreamt of going to before.

‘‘Every journey is an opportunity to experience new cultures and to interact with people from diverse backgrounds,” she says.

‘‘It is always a delight to discover new cities and revisit those that I have been to before.”

Multi-racial interactions begin long before Mariam’s plane starts taxiing on the runway, thanks to Emirates’ 20,000 flight attendants who are drawn from 150 countries.

India is Mariam’s favourite destination, owing to the sub-continent’s diverse cultures, sub-cultures, languages and dialects.

READ ALSO:   Meet the British Woman behind some of the most fiery Uhuru speeches as presidential candidate

What are the key selling points for this career and why would a young person be interested?

‘‘First, if you do it for a long time, flying can become a lifestyle. Most air hostesses are offered the best accommodation, travel allowances and per diems,” she says, adding that this is the best job for those who are outgoing and adventurous in nature.

‘‘You always get to meet and interact with team members whom you have never flown with before, which is very exciting.”

But even though they might not always know each other before every flight, the team always has a common goal: To fly passengers to their destinations within a safe and exciting environment.

Major airlines also offer extensive training in the industry to boost their employees’ career development.’’

Additionally, flight attendants have a clearly defined career growth pattern.

“Beginners start at the economy class level before progressing to business class. You are then elevated to first class and later cabin supervisor and service trainer, depending on your interests. All these come with attractive perks,” she says.

The selection process in major airlines is, however, a highly competitive and rigorous exercise.

“Candidates who meet the basic requirements of personal presentation and etiquette are handpicked from dozens of applicants, after which they are interviewed on various aspects of the business,” says Mariam, who is also a a fitness coach and a gym trainer.

Once selected, the team is taken through an intensive training that covers the aspects of safety and security, customer service, grooming and general medical training.

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“This is particularly necessary because it enables us to know how to handle medical emergencies on board whenever they occur.

“Unlike some careers, where you must have qualifications in that particular area, most airlines admit professionals from different academic backgrounds, with only basic training required.”

Mariam studied food and nutrition at the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) in London, and also holds a higher national diploma in aviation management.

After employment, a candidate can further their studies and specialise in different areas. The downside of her job, she says, is jetlag.

“You fly through different time zones every day. When you leave Dubai for Chicago, for instance, you depart in the morning and arrive there while it’s still in the morning. This throwback upsets the body, and you have to adjust accordingly so that you can sleep.”

Mariam notes that getting used to jetlag takes time, and that the body naturally adjusts to cope favourably with the long flights.

‘‘When I arrive in Chicago in the morning, I usually go sightseeing and shopping in the city, then retire to bed at night. This allows me to sleep well. On average, we spend 50 hours in the city, and by the time we’re flying back, my body has relaxed adequately.”

Eating healthy foods and maintaining an active lifestyle is highly recommended for this kind of a job.

‘‘We’re encouraged to engage in sports, go to the gym, do yoga or meditation so we keep our bodies and spirit active,’’ she says.

READ ALSO:   VIDEO: Raila recognizes Uhuru as president in surprise statement

A strong personality, a pleasant demeanour and positive attitude are crucial in this industry.

Mariam travels to seven or eight destinations in a week, and gets 10 to 12 days of rest every month. With such a compact schedule, meeting her family is not always possible, but her employer offers her a very decent incentive.

“The airline provides a concessional ticket for every crew’s family, which allows us to travel together with loved ones. Whenever I travel, I purchase tickets at discounted prices, or use the free tickets that the airline provides.”

Installation of WiFi on planes is one of the trends which is expected to enhance the flying experience for customers.

“It’s now possible to connect with your loved ones and go about your life from altitudes of 35,000 feet.”

But misconceptions about the career abound too. People assume that members of cabin crew are poor at maintaining lasting relationships because they are always travelling. This is false,” she observes.

Mariam is an avid reader too, with a particular bias for fiction.

“I like reading crime thrillers by John Grisham. I also love history. My most recent read is a book called Sapiens by Yuval Harari, which is a history of evolution of humankind until the 21st century.”

An ardent hiker, Mariam has climbed Mt Kilimanjaro, Elbrus in Russia, Stok Kangri in northern India and Everest Base Camp in Nepal.

by nation

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Michael Joseph: KQ could fly into more turbulence

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National carrier Kenya Airways has protested the slow pace with which the government is implementing the nationalisation of the airline. It has warned it could fly into more turbulence within six months if the programme is not completed.

Kenya Airways Board Chairman Michael Joseph  yesterday expressed their frustrations at how the Ministry of Transport was handling the recommended programme.

He complained to a parliamentary committee that since the National Assembly directed the nationalisation, little had been done, throwing their restructuring plans into disarray.

Mr Joseph said since July when parliament voted to nationalise the listed airline, approving the government’s buying out of the minority shareholders, there was no clear roadmap and set timelines for the programme, placing the airline at risk of plunging into more debts.

He told the National Assembly’s Transport Committee that while they had worked out their plans and engaged both financial and legal advisers on the nationalisation programme, there was little that had been done by the government to actualise the plan.

“Our frustrations and impatience is that about six months later, we have no timelines on when the process should end. We are not even sure if it will go to conclusion,” said Joseph.

READ ALSO:   Meet the British Woman behind some of the most fiery Uhuru speeches as presidential candidate

He added: “We are frustrated that this is really taking long. We have vented as much as we can and I am sure even the PS (Transport Principal Secretary Esther Koimett) is not happy with me stating this publicly, but we can tell you that unless this is done within the next six months, then the airline will no longer be a strategic asset for this country.”

But Koimett defended the ministry, stating that since parliament’s move, they had formed steering and technical committees that are now handling the specific elements of the process.

She revealed that the committees have since prepared a memorandum to be presented to Cabinet and sought advisory opinion of the Attorney General, who addressed the aspects that need to be taken care of in the process.

by Standard

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