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Kenyans cries on petroleum tax have been heard

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President Uhuru Kenyatta has proposed a fuel tax cut from 16 to eight per cent, meaning the price of petrol will drop from Sh127 to Sh118 and that of diesel from Sh115 to Sh107.

The president announced this during a national address on Friday, on matters including Finance Bill, 2018, which he reviewed and returned to Parliament on Thursday evening.

President Kenyatta began his televised address from State House, Nairobi County, with a breakdown of development projects since the Jubilee administration took over in 2013.

He noted that more than Sh1 trillion has been transferred to counties since that year and cited road construction, maternal care, free primary education, free public day secondary school education and the availability of text books for students.

Mr Kenyatta also noted the Memorandum of Understanding with the United States for direct flights from Nairobi to New York, investments into the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and the Standard Gauge Railway, benefits from the National Hospital Insurance Fund and stipends for the elderly.

“All these cost money … your taxes have paid for clear and tangible products. This will propel our country to new heights of development,” he said.

The president also spoke of “bold decisions” for the sake of development, the fight against corruption and social protection programmes.

“All these we have done without substantial increases in taxes over time [but] we have to pay for the new constitutional order and the public services Kenyans depend on. These cost money.”

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He added, however, that “it is clear that you are all troubled by the effects of the rise in the price of petroleum products and its impacts on the cost of living”.

The president therefore asked Parliament to cut the fuel Value Added Tax (VAT) by 50 per cent and said he expects the relevant authorities ” not to take advantage of weary Kenyans and to lower the prices without any delay”.

Mr Kenyatta rejected the Bill that sought to raise Sh1 trillion in revenue, including Sh70 billion from the tax on petroleum.

The National Assembly will now discuss the proposals in two special sittings on Tuesday and Thursday next week.

The president noted that Kenya still faces gaps in financing so this step alone will not balance the budget.

As such, Mr Kenyatta also proposed budget cuts across all arms of government and more resources for the Judiciary, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and the office of the Director of Public Prosecution for the fight against graft.

He did not specify the spending cuts but said they will touch on travel, seminars and training as well as hospitality.

“We in government also need to tighten our belts so that the dedication of Kenyans in paying taxes is matched by discipline in our use of the taxes,” he said.

Mr Kenyatta told the public that he has to make a delicate balance between short term pain and long term gain.

He listed the 67 senators, the 349 MPs, the 16 constitutional commissions, the 1,400 members of the county assemblies and the Sh1 trillion that has since been pumped to the 47 counties as some of the reasons why Kenyans needed to tighten their belts.

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“We have to pay for the new constitutional order because it costs money,” the president said. “Further delays in implementing these tax measures will compromise our ability to deliver on our basis promises to Kenyans.”

But he added: “I assure Kenyans that their taxes will be used well.”

To the Judiciary and the DPP, he said: “Work closely together to help us restore our faith in public institutions.”

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WPP preparing to merge Young & Rubicam and digital ad firm VML: WSJ

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(Reuters) – The world’s largest advertising company WPP Plc’s (WPP.L) is preparing to consolidate some of its businesses in a bid to keep pace with the industry’s digital shift, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.

FILE PHOTO: A logo hangs on the wall outside the WPP offices in London, Britain April 30, 2018. REUTERS/Simon Dawson/File Photo

The company, under its new boss Mark Read, is considering a merger between Young & Rubicam and WPP’s digital-ad firm VML, putting the combined group under the leadership of VML CEO Jon Cook, WSJ reported, citing sources.

There are talks about having the group’s direct-marketing company Wunderman work with its creative firms to provide access to consumer data to help them craft more relevant ads, the WSJ reported, citing a source.

The market leader has been hit hard in the last year as clients have increasingly turn to online platforms such as Google and Facebook to reach consumers.

The group is also recovering from the departure of its founder and veteran CEO Martin Sorrell who left in April after complaint about personal misconduct, which he denied.

WPP was not immediately available to comment on the report.

Reporting by Mekhla Raina in Bengaluru; Editing by Edmund Blair

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European Banking Authority is asked to investigate oversight of Danske Bank

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COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – The European Commisssion has asked the European Banking Authority (EBA) to investigate what went wrong in the oversight of Danske Bank’s (DANSKE.CO) Estonian branch, which is at the center of a major money laundering scandal, it said on Sunday, confirming a report in Financial Times.

FILE PHOTO: Danske Bank sign is seen at the bank’s Estonian branch in Tallinn, Estonia August 3, 2018. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins/File Photo

The Commission has also sent letters, written at the request of justice commissioner Vera Jourova, to the Danish and Estonian governments to ask about the case and its supervision, the spokesman said.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Writing by Teis Jensen; Editing by David Goodman

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China, Saudi dominate Sh106 billion imports in July

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A cargo ship at the port of Mombasa. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Goods from China, Saudi Arabia, India, South Africa and Japan accounted for 80 per cent of imports last July even as the countries made insignificant purchases from Kenya.

Machinery, construction materials and consumer items were among items worth Sh35.3 billion bought from China making up 33.14 per cent of the total Sh106.5 billion. They were followed by Saudi Arabia that mainly sold petroleum products valued at Sh21.45 billion.

China accounts for 25 per cent of Kenyan imports bill under the current common external tariff structure of zero per cent, 10 per cent and 25 per cent for raw materials, intermediate goods and final goods respectively.

India sold drugs, electrical transformers, IT equipment and iron-rolled products, among others, worth Sh14.3 billion with Japan-based traders receiving Sh9.15 billion, mostly for motor vehicles’ purchase.

South African exports were valued at Sh6 billion. Pakistan was the leading buyer of Kenyan exports, mainly raw tea worth Sh5.35 billion, with American traders buying clothing and flowers worth Sh5.33 billion.

The US sold Kenya goods worth Sh3.93 billion. Trade between the two is expected to grow starting November when direct cargo and passenger flights from JKIA to New York’s JF Kennedy Airport start operating next week. Uganda maintained its top position as Kenya’s biggest East African partner buying goods worth Sh3.7 billion compared to June’s Sh4.35 billion, while Tanzania settled for Sh1.93 billion up from June’s Sh1.8 billion.

Rwanda received goods worth Sh1.4 billion from Kenya, while the Netherlands bought goods worth Sh3.62 billion and exported to Kenya Sh1.3 billion cargo.

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