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I’m embarrassed, says Kenyatta as he refuses to read his speech

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President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday declined to read his speech when he officially closed a two-day small and medium enterprises (SMEs) forum saying his government had failed the sector.

Mr Kenyatta said most government officials tasked with ensuring better conditions for SMEs have never visited the traders in their working areas to see the difficulties they face.

He said both the national and county governments have failed to deliver on past pledges made to the traders, citing promises made in 2014 to build roads the populous Gikomba market but are yet to be implemented.

“I will not read my speech because it is shameful for the government. “I’m embarrassed to stand here in front of you people to be reminded of what we should have done many years ago,” Mr Kenyatta said.

The President also hit at Nairobi governor, Mike Sonko for City Hall’s failure to construct proper drainage systems for the traders at the popular Gikomba market.

The market is home at least 14,000 traders but it is a nightmare whenever it rains due to the poor drainage and flooded thin roads making it hard for buyers to access.

Mr Kenyatta was responding to numerous concerns raised by SMEs at the two-day event, with most hitting out at the government for lack of proper infrastructure, high power tariffs and lack of protection from international players.

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He instead directed a similar meeting be held in a month’s time where the relevant state agencies will update the small scale manufacturers on the measures put in place to provide an enabling environment.
SMEs are the country’s biggest employer with the government banking on them to create more jobs and reduce the unemployment rate amongst the youth which stood at 22 per cent according to a United Nations Human Development report released last year.

Data by Kenya National Bureau of Statistics indicates that there are more than 17 million SMEs registered in Kenya with 98 per cent of them contributing about 25 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

-nation.co.ke

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Canadian agency warns about Visa fraudsters

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Kenyans are losing up to Sh2.15 million per person to well organised fraudsters selling fake Visa’s to Canada and non-existent job offers to Kenyan job-seekers, an international agency that processes the travel documents, warned on Monday.

The scheme has been targeting not only low income households seeking greener pastures abroad but the very wealthy, the agency warned in a statement.

The scammers net about Sh150 million from conning about 150 people, in about two or three months.

Beaver Immigration Consulting said the scams have left a trail of devastation among the hundreds of the affected.

Mr Nicholas Avramis a regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant with Beaver Immigration Consulting said the agency is now “frustrated” from the mounting incidents of fraud under the scheme.

“I am very frustrated as I continue to get calls from people that have been scammed. This is a global problem with Canadian immigration in general. It is prevalent in India and China, but now the fraudsters are moving into the African region to rip people off,” said Mr Avramis.

According to him, the scam works in two main ways.

“The first is where the fraudster promises to obtain a visa to enter Canada and work. Essentially, an open work permit. This, does not exist for people outside of Canada,” he explained.

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In another the scammers claim that they can find the victim a job, by securing a letter of employment from a Canadian company.

nation.co.ke

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Mumbi Girls matron of 33 years found dead, hanging in her sitting room

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Mumbi Girls High School in Murang’a County where the body of the institution's was found in her house on May 21, 2019. It is suspected that she committed suicide. PHOTO | NDUNG'U GACHANE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

A matron at Mumbi Girls High School in Murang’a County has been found dead in a case of suspected suicide.

Murang’a County Police Commander Josephat Kinyua told the Nation that the matron’s body was discovered Tuesday morning in her house in the living quarters situated within the school compound.

He said they have launched investigations to establish the cause of death of the 56-yaer-old woman.

“The principal of the school informed the police that they have discovered the body of the school matron identified as Joyce Mwinzi and we have sent officers to the school to collect the body and to start investigations,” Mr Kinyua said.

The body was found hanging in her sitting room on Tuesday morning by the school’s groundsman and a librarian after her husband called them asking about her whereabouts.

According to the school’s principal, Esther Njeri Wambugu, the matron did not report to work on Monday as it was her off day and was supposed to visit her husband in Gatanga Sub-County.

When she failed to show up at their home, her husband called the school’s workers who decided to check on her, only to find her body dangling in the sitting room.

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Ms Wambugu said the matron had worked at the school for 33 years and that she never showed any signs of depression or related illness.

“She has worked in the school for 33 years in different departments and had been giving wise counsel to the girls. I last saw her on Saturday during the school’s prize giving ceremony and she looked jovial and even completed her work as assigned,” the worried principal said.

She added that the matron attended students on Sunday night at 10pm who complained of stomach ache, saying that was her last encounter with the students.

The matron’s husband also worked as a cook at the school but retired at the beginning of this year.

The county police boss lamented over the increased cases of suicides in Murang’a and pleaded with locals to seek better ways of solving their issues instead of committing suicide.

There was tension at the school on Tuesday mid-morning as police officers visited the scene to pick her body.

source:nation.co.ke

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Kenyans wire back Sh1trn in offshore bank accounts

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Wealthy Kenyans have wired back an estimated Sh1 trillion from offshore accounts in the past three years, taking advantage of a tax amnesty offered by the Treasury.

The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) in a response to Business Daily queries said the amount was repatriated by some 16,000 applicants who took advantage of the amnesty window during which they were not required to declare the source of their wealth or even account for previous years’ tax arrears.

The amnesty, which was announced by Treasury Secretary Henry Rotich in 2016, is set to close next month.

“We have received over 16,000 applicants with the amount repatriated so far at Sh1,014,058,103,551. The incentive was meant to encourage Kenyans to repatriate their wealth back to the country for purposes of development,” said KRA in a statement.

The amount wired back is more than one third of Kenya’s annual Budget.

Wealthy Kenyans have traditionally stashed wealth abroad to either escape the taxman’s scrutiny or to spread their risks by investing in the more politically and economically stable Western democracies.

A report by an American think tank, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), last year revealed that Kenya’s super-rich were holding more than Sh5 trillion in offshore tax havens across the world.

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Another international report released in 2007 detailed how a corrupt network in the Moi administration looted at least Sh130 billion and stashed it abroad, including in the United Kingdom and South Africa.

The report by risk advisers Kroll and Associates was commissioned by the then President Mwai Kibaki’s administration.

The 110-page report published online detailed how people close to Mr Moi set up shell companies, fronts and secret trusts to siphon away Kenyan taxpayers’ money, which they stashed in banks, real estate and companies in an estimated 30 countries around the world.

With the return into the country of the over Sh1 trillion, the owners of the cash have effectively ‘cleaned’ their wealth and evaded any questions on the source of the money or any tax liabilities that may have been due in the years before they made the declaration.

The colossal amount has, however, not made a visible impact in the economy, raising questions on where the cash has been kept.

Kenyan laws have a narrow scope on taxation of wealth earned abroad, but the amnesty offered a golden opportunity for those who had stashed cash offshore to bring it back without scrutiny.

Deloitte East Africa Tax Partner Fred Omondi said in an interview yesterday that most tax audit firms had not received any significant enquiries from Kenyans willing to repatriate wealth back home.

READ ALSO:   Uhuru returns home with Sh21.9 billion from China as questions over national debt abound

“We haven’t seen a lot of uptake of this amnesty given that most income earned abroad is not subject to taxation in Kenya. Until the money is invested here and taxable income generated, there is no tax revenue to expect,” said Mr Omondi.

Mr Rotich, who yesterday did not respond to our queries on the impact that the Sh1 trillion has had on the economy, at the time of the announcement said the amnesty would make the environment more conducive for those willing to reinvest back home.

“Mr Speaker, taxpayers who take up this amnesty shall have all principal taxes, interests and penalties for the year of income, 2016 and the prior year’s automatically remitted in total. In addition, the government shall not follow up on the sources of such income and assets declared,” said the Treasury CS in his 2016 annual Budget Speech.

The incentive has since been extended twice to allow more uptake after potential applicants failed to take advantage fearing they would be subjected to provisions of Proceeds of Crime and Anti-Money Laundering Act.

Mr Rotich last year amended the law to exempt them from the requirement to declare the source of their wealth to the Financial Reporting Centre. He urged taxpayers to take advantage of the amnesty and “clean up their records with KRA”.

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KRA then issued guidelines on the repatriation and signed certificates for those who successfully applied for the repatriation during the period. The tax forgiveness applied only to those who declared income from their wealth abroad, including homes, for the period up to December 2018.

They were expected to file their returns with KRA.

Audit firm Ernst and Young, in its analysis of the amnesty in March 2016, warned that the process was prone to abuse.

“The amnesty should be undertaken with precaution as there is the potential for abuse with respect to money laundering under the pretext of repatriating assets,” the firm wrote a day after KRA held a stakeholders meeting to get feedback on the guidelines provided for the amnesty.

Delloite’s Fred Omondi also said the amnesty could have been used by those seeking to clean their funds before taking them back to the offshore havens with the needed legitimacy granted through the repatriation.

source:businessdaily

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