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VIDEO: Uhuru between a rock and a hard place over external debts

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President Uhuru Kenyatta’s low key return to the country on Sunday night after attending this year’s Forum on China-Africa Co-operation (FOCAC) in Beijing is the classic tale of a leader between a rock and a hard place.

The president’s return comes at a time when the political class and the media have already set the agenda; the issue being the rise in fuel prices.

As it stands, all Kenyans’ eyes are trained on him to see what course of action he takes amid public outrage over the matter.

He has two options; to succumb to public pressure and sign the Bill into law or send back the Bill to Parliament with recommendations.

It is a tough balancing act for the president who has in the recent past been meeting world leaders for bilateral talks and drumming up support for his Big Four Agenda.

If he signs the Bill, he risks sending the country into the bad books of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which has put into question the country’s credit worthiness due to the ballooning public debt which stands at a mind-ruffling Ksh5.1 trillion.

Watch as Citizen TV explains the debts in plain langauge:

In 2015, the government entered an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to raise funds internally after the institution raised the red flag over the government’s borrowing appetite and budget deficits. The agreement allowed Kenya access to a standby credit facility which the country can draw in the event of financial distress.

READ ALSO:   VIDEO: Uhuru posts 13 new ambassadors to different countries

That facility is yet to be renewed and the decision depends of generating revenue from internal taxes and repealing the cap on bank interest rates, which MPs also shot down. MPs want the 16% fuel tax VAT put on hold for a further two years.

The other option isn’t pretty either; if he sends it back to Parliament, he will be inviting the public’s fury which until now, has been directed at Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich.

The issue has united Kenyans across the political divide, a scenario that down not look pretty for the Jubilee administration.

The government has been under immense pressure to raise revenue to finance the Ksh2.7 trillion budget amid a shortfall of Ksh530 billion in collections by the taxman.

The government is seeking to raise Ksh 71 billion from taxing the petroleum products, attempts which have been termed as insensitive to the common man by politicians and experts.

On September 6, the High Court sitting in Bungoma suspended the tax pending presidential assent or sending back of the bill to parliament. Orders which the government has defied. “We have not been served with the order. If we are served we shall comply but the order is mainly on the National Treasury,” said Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) Director General Pavel Omieke in a statement on September 10.

READ ALSO:   Raila new found status

A crisis meeting between Rotich and the parliamentary leadership over the fuel tax on September 6 ended without any resolutions.

Businesstoday.co.ke

 

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Missed a strange call? Don’t respond

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If you woke up to several unattended calls from an unknown number, what would you do? Call back? Text? Ignore? Contact your service provider?

The fashion in which the calls come in – one-ring then drop, and with the several missed calls – creates an air of urgency about it which you have to wonder how the caller got your contact.

The urge to call back a missed call becomes irresistible. Especially when they are numerous missed calls from a strange international caller. However, to some, it makes more sense to call their service provider.

On the eve of Valentine’s Day, when most people’s minds were tuned to the rhythm of love, random international callers with +243 prefixes contacted several Kenyan Safaricom subscribers, taking psychological advantage of the moment of affection.

Alan Mwenda, one of those contacted, reached out to Safaricom – the service provider, but he was advised to “share such numbers on SMS to 333 (free) for investigation and look up the “One Ring Scam.”  However, the telco is yet to share their stance.

But, what really was happening? How potential is this type of cyber security threat? Who exactly are these callers?

One ring and drop nature of the calls has been dubbed ‘Wangiri’ by America’s Federal Communications Commission report that derived it from the calls’ characteristic nature of calling and hanging up immediately, leaving a missed call notification from an international caller.

READ ALSO:   VIDEO: Uhuru posts 13 new ambassadors to different countries

Mr Fred Wahome, vice chair of Kenya Cybersecurity and Forensic Association and an information security expert explains: “The calls are computer generated. It takes one to have an algorithm that can generate random numbers with their target telco’s prefix, say, between 070 and 079 as the instance with Safaricom, then the computer makes random calls to the unsuspecting subscribers.”

He adds, “The goal is not always to make you answer the call. It is persuading you to call back.”

Calling the fraudster would activate the exorbitant charges which then generates cash to the fraudsters. The best way to deal with such, according to him, is to ignore the allure of returning the call.

Service providers, he says, are mostly not able to track down these numbers as call data records may not have recorded them, because the computer generated algorithms make massive calls simultaneously to their subscribers.

When the victim calls back, then that would be considered as cyber fraud.

Dr Bright Mawudor, a cybersecurity expert at Internet Solutions Kenya says that the number, if at all not an algorithm, could be calling from anywhere in the world and not necessarily from Kinshasa.”

The ‘international caller’, he explains, could have purported to be calling from Kinshasa. “It could even have come from right here in Kenya. They usually change the phone dialing proxies to fool target user accounts, and make their attack plans easier to execute,” he expounds.

READ ALSO:   How Raila Unmasked Matiang'i Impostor in Dubai

Vodafone, a global mobile communications provider, operating in 26 countries advises subscribers not to return international calls that they don’t recognise.

When befell by the same fate, the report also prescribes various means to ensure that would be employed to minimalise chances of the getting scammed.

Users must check out for the identity of the caller before receiving any call, even international, dismiss the temptation to answer or call back missed calls from unusual international numbers.

“You should ask your service provider to block incoming international calls on your line after any suspected attempt to breach your phone security.”

In 2017, Kenya’s digital economy lost Sh21.1 billion to cybercrime, which increased by 39.8 per cent in 2018 to Sh29.5 billion according to pan-African based cyber-security and business consultancy Serianu.

Heavy finances have been invested in cyber security infrastructure, but the menace keeps chopping off millions of shillings from companies’ profits, and stealing sensitive data from targeted senior employees.

By Nation.co.ke

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Business

Luxury Westlands hotel on auction over Sh240m debt

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A luxury hotel in Westlands, Nairobi formerly known Westend is set to be auctioned over unpaid Sh240 million bank loan.

In a notice published in the dailies Wednesday, Dalali Traders invited potential buyers of We Hotel and Suites formerly known as Westend to attend the event Thursday.

“Under instructions received from the charges advocate, we shall sell by public auction the under mentioned property on Thursday 20 February at our offices along Kijabe Street next to Universal Church starting at 10:30am,” the auctioneer said in a notice.

The hotel is associated with media entrepreneur Purish Shah.

Mr Shah, who is the vice chairman of Radio Africa linked urban station East FM had earlier pushed back similar attempts to sell his We Hotel and Suites through the court.

The Business Daily has learnt the latest planned auction of the upscale hotel is due to the debt owed to Bank of India. The hotel comprises a seven-storey building with basement parking. It has 42 rooms, 14 serviced apartments, spa, gym, conference space and a restaurant on the 7th floor.

Its basement comprises 17 parking spaces and a security office. Its ground floor has a conference centre, laundry area, staff dining room, and stores.

Located on Stima Road off Lower Kabete in Westlands it sits on approximately 0.0858ha (0.212 acres).

READ ALSO:   Kenyan President in SA for talks with President Zuma

“A deposit of 25 percent of the sale price must be paid in cash or banker’s cheque at the fall of the hammer and balance paid within the 90 days to the charges,” said the auctioneers.

The auction comes as the number of properties going under the hammer or businesses crippled by mounting debt has risen sharply in recent months.

We Hotel and Suites joins the growing class of distressed hotels owned and operated by locals that have fallen to mounting debt and slowed down business as a result of the increased supply of rooms in the country and the government’s directive for public servants to hold their meetings in government institutions as part of cost-cutting measures.

By Business Daily

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Nairobi reports high January home sales driven by access to credit and lower property prices

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Realtors have reported increased sales of standalone homes within Nairobi and its suburbs, largely driven by improved access to credit and lower property prices.

A survey of several real estate dealers in the city has revealed that January property sales were much higher than the average monthly transactions reported in 2019.

Realtor HassConsult said high-end properties in Westlands as well as the Gigiri diplomatic zone performed well last month, with several off- plan deals recorded.

“January has witnessed three times more activity than any other month last year,” said HassConsult’s head of development consulting and research Sakina Hassanali.

She said Kenyans appear to be enjoying better access to capital as many property buyers and tenants had paid all their instalments that lagged behind last year.

Mr Patrick Muchoki of Mahiga Homes said they have seen higher demand in developments in Ruiru and Kitengela, mostly from investor- buyers from the diaspora market.

“There is hope as Kenya’s population is rising and new well-paying jobs

are fast emerging within the digital space. 2020 is shaping up to be different from 2019, as banks are now willing to lend to would-be homeowners,” he said.

Enkavilla Properties General Manager Lilian Juma said good infrastructure has been supporting new sales for upcoming residential development in areas such as Kangundo Road, while Kitengela serviced plots sold under a buy-and-build basis have witnessed heightened interest among young couples.

READ ALSO:   How Raila Unmasked Matiang'i Impostor in Dubai

Releasing their fourth-quarter housing property index, Kenya Bankers Association reported a seven percentage points jump in maisonette and bungalow sales within Nairobi and its suburbs.

KBA research and policy financial markets director Jared Osoro said there was a 17 per cent rise in sales of maisonettes in the fourth quarter of 2019 compared to a 10 per cent rise in the third quarter.

Outlook
ALL NOT LOST, SAY PLAYERS

The fourth-quarter KBA Housing Index registered a 0.61 per cent decline compared to the third quarter’s 2.28 per cent drop in house prices, an indication that the repeal of the interest rate capping law last November could have eased access to credit.

Increasing opportunities especially in the ICT sector, rising income levels and infrastructure are among factors that will push demand for homes up, according to some property managers.

By Nation

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