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Kenyans in the diaspora sent home ksh280 billion in 2019 

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By JUDITH GICOBI

According to the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) new annual record in 2019, Kenyans living and working abroad sent home approximately $2.7 billion (KSh280 billion).

The amount shows a 3.7 percent growth compared to the previous year, whose remittances roughly $2.6 billion (KSh272.3 billion). The lowest remittance was in 2015.

A weekly report bulleting from CBK that was released on Friday shows money sent by Kenyans in the diaspora increase to $250.3 million (KSh25.2 billion) in December 2019. An increase from $218.8 million (KSh22 billion) in November. 

Kenyans in North America accounted for the most substantial part of the remittance in December at 50 percent. Following closely was Europe at 20 percent and 30 percent from the rest of the world.

However, the 2019 total remittances did not meet the World bank’s target of Sh285.5 billion. The target amount would have achieved a five percent growth. “The rate of growth of remittance inflows will rise by just 5 percent compared to a 39 percent growth between 2017 and 2018,’’ World Bank said in December.

World Bank sees the reduced growth in diaspora remittances is due to the increasing economic concerns in the US and the United Kingdom, where a recession may be setting in despite strong employment data.

”With the world slipping into a recession, it is feared that remittance inflows may suffer as companies’ layoff staff in the developed world even as employers and employees adopt austerity measures,” World Bank’s report said.

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Pricey tomatoes push up the cost of living in February

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The high cost of tomatoes contributed to a spike in the cost of living in February with overall prices of goods and services in the economy increasing by 6.37 per cent.

This was a nine-month with the increase in general prices of food and non-alcoholic drinks standing at 10.58 per cent, year-on-year.

In January, inflation rate, or the annualised percentage change in price in a basket of goods, stood at 5.78 per cent.

Price of a kilogramme of tomatoes, whose high price has been the butt of many jokes online, increased by 62.4 per cent from Sh82.4 in the same month last year to Sh133.8.Another foodstuff that saw its price rise at a fast rate was maize grain (loose), with a kilogram retailing at Sh50.8, an increase of 42.8 per cent compared to the same period last year

.A kilogramme of onions touched Sh110.29 from Sh89.41, according to data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS).

“The increase in inflation was driven by increase in prices of several food items outweighing decrease registered in respect of others,” said KNBS.

Sukumawiki

“Notably, the prices of tomatoes increased by 62.4 per cent in February 2020 compared to the cost in February 2019. However, prices of mangoes and loose maize grain dropped by 8.39 and 1.3 per cent respectively.”While the heavy downpour depressed the supply of tomatoes, it was a boon for other foodstuff such as Sukuma Wiki.A kilogramme of sukuma wiki retailed at an average of Sh40, this was 15.4 per cent lower compared to Sh47.3 in the same month in 2019.

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Mangoes, potatoes, carrots and spinach also saw their retail prices decline during this period.House rents went up, with the index on housing, water, electricity , gas and other fuels increasing by 0.47 per cent.

“However, during the same period, the cost of electricity consumption kerosene dropped,” said KNBS.

A litre of petrol retailed at Sh113.3 last in February, an increase of 12 per cent, from Sh101.13 in January.An inflation rate of 6.37 per cent remains within the Central Bank of Kenya’s target of between 2.5 and 7.5 per cent.

By Standard

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Uhuru’s housing project in limbo as Treasury CS says there is no money

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President Uhuru Kenyatta’s pet project of affordable housing for the country is facing financial turbulence.

This comes after National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yattani admitted before a parliamentary committee that the government may not allocate money in the next financial year due to a dip in national revenue collection.

After President Uhuru Kenyatta was sworn in for his second and last term in 2017, he announced his Big Four agenda for the country which include, manufacturing, universal health coverage, food security and affordable housing.

Under the housing, the President outlined his government’s plan to construct at least 500,000 housing units across the country by 2022.

To construct 100,000 units, the government requires about Sh45 billion so as to attract investors to pump in more money into the programme.

But while appearing before the Transport, Public Works and Housing Committee of the National Assembly Thursday, Mr Yattani noted that his ministry is facing financial difficulties and that he cannot guarantee the availability of the funds required for the project.

“We may not provide anything in the next financial year,” Mr Yattani told the committee chaired by Pokot South MP David Pkosing.

Transport, Public Works and Housing Cabinet Secretary James Macharia, who also appeared before the committee, noted that the government now intends to bring onboard the Saccos.

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According to Mr Macharia, 228 units of the 1,370 units being the first phase along Park road in the city’s Ngara estate, have been completed and handed over to the government.

The projected completion of the entire project is December this year.

In the current financial year, Sh5 billion has been set aside for the programme and will be fully disbursed after Mr Macharia complained that out the allocation, only Sh1 billion has been given out.

Mr Macharia told the committee that it was regrettable there will be no money to fund the President’s legacy project noting that if the requested amount was availed, the country would be having 130,000 units.

He noted that given the reality that the country may not have the money required, it may be prudent to explore the mortgage culture and rope in the low-income bracket.

“Currently there are about 25,000 mortgages in the country, which by any standards is quite low. This culture needs to change. The ministry is encouraging investors to come in and take risk by putting up houses for sale,” Mr Macharia said.

He noted that the government will provide the required land, infrastructure, water and power among other things to support the investors in this.

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“With all this provided, the cost of putting up houses might go down by up to 40 percent. This is the strategy that we want to use,” he said.

Mr Yattani explained to the committee that the Kenya Mortgage Refinance Company (KMRC) will also play a key role in boosting the success of affordable housing programme.

KMRC was incorporated in April 2018, to provide secure long-term funding to primary mortgage lenders (Banks and Saccos) in order to increase availability and affordability of housing loans to Kenyans.

Mr Macharia told the committee that the take-off of the project faced setbacks due to delays in the implementation of mandatory contribution and lack of support from the public as provided for in the Finance Act, 2018.

The law had made it mandatory that workers contribute 1.5 percent of their basic salaries with their respective employers contributing a similar figure to finance the project.

However, the Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) obtained court orders to suspend the implementation of the mandatory contribution.

Before the matter could be determined in court, President Kenyatta while leading the country to mark Jamuhuri Day celebrations on December 12, last year, he decreed that changes be made to the Finance Act to make the contribution voluntary.

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by Nation

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Dreamliner KQ ranked last among 10 carriers in the Middle East and Africa

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A strike and pilot sabotage are among factors that dragged Kenya Airways to the bottom of Middle East and African carriers’ ranking in the 2019 on-time performance (OTP) review.

The update done by Cirium, a London-based airlines advisory and consultancy firm, rates global airlines through their on-time arrivals, departures, average delay in minutes per flight and those that operate within scheduled time.

TIME ARRIVAL

The airline was ranked last among the 10 carriers in Middle East and Africa, a blow to the carrier that saw its losses double last year.

The rating saw Kenya’s national carrier come in 10th with a 72.25 per cent on time arrival of flights just below Addis Ababa-based Ethiopian Airlines at 74.22 per cent.

Qatar Airline was ranked top with 82.45 per cent on time arrival, followed by Dubai-headquartered Emirates Airlines at 81.02 per cent and troubled South African Airlines at 79.38 per cent, coming a close third in terms of punctuality.

KQ had an average of 47 minutes in delays for its over 54,061 flights it operated last year, a slight improvement of its 50 minutes in 2018.

“Arriving on time at a destination is becoming increasingly important to millions of both leisure and business passengers around the world every day. Therefore, our on-time performance review 2019 is designed to inspire airlines and airports to continually innovate to improve their performance,” the report said.

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PILOT SHORTAGE

Kenya Airways Director of Operations Capt Paul Njoroge attributed the poor show in flight performance to aircraft withdrawals as a result of collision mid last year and industrial action by the airlines unionised employees.

“We were then negatively affected by the withdrawal of two aircraft due to the unfortunate incident in the hangar.

This was then coupled by the Kenya Airlines Workers Union (KAWU) strike and pilot shortage in the second and third quarter of last year, which saw the on time performance drop to as low as 67 per cent in August 2019,” Capt Njoroge said, adding that this was way below the 81 per cent performance they had achieved by April of last year.

In February last year, two of the airline’s Embraer 190 aircraft collided in the hangar while undergoing maintenance which saw them withdrawn from service.

Three months later, the airline’s unionisable employees under KAWU went on strike, protesting against the proposed merger between the national carrier Kenya Airways and the airports regulator. This saw more than 24 of its flights cancelled, while more suffered incessant delays.

By Nation

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