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Kenyan embassy in US disowns online messages warning Kenyans in the Diaspora over Huduma number

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The Kenyan ambassador to the US, Robinson Njeru Githae, has distanced himself from a message which has gone viral on social media platforms puporting to warn Kenyans living in the Diaspora that if they don’t register for and acquire the much publicised Huduma Number, they will neither be able to “send money to family nor to travel back to Kenya.”

The envoy said that Kenyans should not be so gullible as to believe a message like that.

“How is that even possible?’ wondered Mr Githae.

“There is no co-relation whatsoever between the Huduma number and traveling to Kenya or sending money,” he told Kenya Satellite News Network on Thursday night.

“Kenyans should be smart enough to discern fake news. We haven’t even began the registration process and I urge Kenyans to disregard those messages which are meant to cause fear and despondency,” he added.

Githae said that once ready to roll out the registration, the embassy will send out an official communication confirming the same.

And in a related development, the Kenyan government on Friday froze foreign travel for civil servants without digital passports.

In a circular dated April 15 to government institutions, Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua cited hitches in processing of visa and entry permits using the machine-readable ones, which are set to expire in September.

READ ALSO:   VIDEO: Amb Githae denies corruption allegations in ID, Passport issuance exercise

Although entry and exit requirements vary from country to country, Mr Kinyua said the general rule is that a passport should be valid for at least six months at the time of travel.

“Considering that the machine-readable passports will cease to be a valid travel document with effect from September 1, 2019, any machine-readable passport is already outside the 6 months validity period,” Mr Kinyua said in the circular which re-emphasised an earlier one he wrote on September 26, 2018.

“To avoid inconveniences that may be occasioned on account of the limited validity period of the machine-readable passports and in observance of the above-mentioned circular, travel clearance should not be issued to officers who do not hold the e-passport.”

The order means that public servants who had planned to travel in the next few weeks could be forced to reschedule or abandon their travel unless they can acquire the e-passports quickly.

The e-passports are designed to better protect national borders and identities of citizens. They have the latest security features and design techniques besides a new style polycarbonate bio-data page.

Kenya launched its e-passport programme in 2017, making it the first country in the East African Community (EAC) to do so.

This saw the country comply with International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) global specifications and additional requirements set by EAC members.

READ ALSO:   Githae ends tour of duty in Washington DC, transferred to Austria

E-passports have an embedded electronic chip in the passport booklet that stores the biographical information visible on page 2 of the document, as well as a digital security feature, according to ICAO.

APPLICATIONS

The digital security feature is a unique, country specific “digital signature” which can be verified using each nation’s respective certificate.

The government says the new passport is harder to duplicate and helps to counter threats from criminals such as terrorists and human traffickers.

The e-passport system was installed by British security printer De La Rue.

Mr Kinyua said that public servants are still making requests for visa facilitation using the machine-readable passports which are due to expire on August 31, 2019 in violation of the earlier circular.

“Please be advised that while passport requirements for entry and exit vary from country to country, the general rule is that a passport should have at least six (6) months validity when travelling internationally,” he said.

“Therefore, most countries will not issue a visa or permit a traveller to enter their country unless the passport is set to expire at least six months after the final date of travel.”

He added that civil servants should make arrangements to apply for the new e-passports, noting that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will not facilitate visa issuance for holders of the machine-readable passports.

READ ALSO:   VIDEO: Amb Githae cautions Kenyans in US against DUI, domestic violence

Officials copied in the circular were asked to inform their staff of the passport rules. They include cabinet secretaries, county governors, principal secretaries, commissioners and holders of independent offices.

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Diaspora

Dilapidated Kenyan embassy buildings around the world to get Sh700m facelift

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It will cost taxpayers Sh700 million to renovate diplomats’ homes and offices in Washington D.C, London and New York as their poor state force ambassadors to rent premises.

The Treasury, in budget documents before Members of Parliament for review, says it will spend Sh250 million to renovate the high commissioner’s residence in London, Sh250 million (Washington D.C properties) and Sh200 million for New York homes and office.

Foreign Affairs ministry has recently indicated a change of plan from lease of space to property purchase as rental costs for embassies and consulates shoot to billions of shillings annually.

Diplomats in London and New York have been forced to rent homes as residences built by taxpayers fall apart due to neglect, the Auditor-General revealed last year.

Edward Ouko’s audit paints the sorry state of affairs in the country’s foreign missions and singled out the Kenyan embassies in Washington D.C, New York and London—which are the most prestigious diplomatic missions. This has forced the diplomats to rent homes in some of the world’s pricey cities, pushing the missions’ leasing costs to above Sh2 billion.

“No proper justification has been given for leasing residential houses considering that the Government of Kenya has houses for the ambassadors in New York and London except for failure to maintain these properties in habitable conditions,” said Mr Ouko.

READ ALSO:   Amb Githae stops controversial ID issuance exercise in US Cities, says no E-passports at Embassy

“An expenditure of Sh2.3 billion on lease of properties abroad could have been minimised if there was a clear policy on purchase or construction of government-owned properties for the missions.”

A recent parliamentary report said the building hosting the Kenyan Embassy in Washington D.C has greatly deteriorated. Compared to neighbouring structures, the property stands out as a neglected unit.

SOURCE: Businessdaily.co.ke

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UK singer calls out controversial Kenyan promoter over attempted extortion

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Nairobi musician-cum-promoter Bradley Juma Obomi aka Trap King Chrome is in the news again after UK singer Melesha Katrina O’Garro, known professionally as Lady Leshurr, called him out for trying to extort money from her.

According to Lady Leshurr, Trap King Chrome has been trying to sell her unreleased music video.

Trap King Chrome attracted unwanted attention in 2017 when he was arrested for allegedly pushing his British girlfriend from their sixth floor apartment in Lavington.

The British rapper, who in January incurred the wrath of Kenyans for stating that she may not be visiting Kenya because of the terror attacks, says that Trap King Chrome, who was her promoter in the country, shot a video while in Kenya and that he is trying to extort her or he leaks it.

“The same guy that brought me to Kenya for the Backyard Bass show in February 2019 at the Muze Club in Westlands, Nairobi has been trying to sell my unseen music video for my song Pretty Likkle Ting which I shot during my stay in the country.”

‘LEAKED VIDEO’

READ ALSO:   VIDEO: Amb Githae denies corruption allegations in ID, Passport issuance exercise

The 29-year-old rapper is best known for her Queen’s Speech series of freestyles, the fourth of which went viral in 2016 and has a song in which she featured Mr Eazie called Black Madonna.

She further claims that Trap King Chrome must have gained access to the video thanks to his friendship with a music director who was involved during the shoot.

Leshurr says Bradley tried selling her the video for Sh640,000 (£5,000) but she ignored him and that Trap King Chrome has since been trying to leak the music video.

She recounted how she performed alongside Grammy Award-winning rapper Nicki Minaj in Manchester in March saying that before she got on stage she got an email about the yet to be released music video leaking, something that killed her energy.

The tweets also allege that the underground rapper wants to bring two more Grime artistes, Stormzy and J. Hus to Kenya for shows.

source:nairobinews

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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.

READ ALSO:   VIDEO: Amb Githae denies corruption allegations in ID, Passport issuance exercise

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:   Amb Githae stops controversial ID issuance exercise in US Cities, says no E-passports at Embassy

“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”.

READ ALSO:   Githae transferred from Washington DC to Vienna, Austria

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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