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Kenya Budget Statement Expected This Afternoon

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Over 59 million Kenyans are anxiously waiting to hear the Budget Statement scheduled for presentation at the National Assembly Thursday Afternoon at about 3PM or (2PM CAT).

Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani is currently preparing himself to appear in the National Assembly and make his 2021/2022 budget statement.

According to local Pundits that have over the years monitored the Kenyan economy, this is going to be the first time the budget statement will be presented ahead of the 2021 Economic Survey by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) which would have traditionally painted a picture of the previous year.

As per procedure, after, reflecting on the state of the Kenyan economy, Yatani will proceed to highlight areas of priority spending in the new financial year which dawns on July 1.

According to insider details, unlike budget days of years past, the 2021 budget statement is all but complete with the exchequer having shares both its final budget estimates and the Finance Bill which carries with it new tax proposals.

An insight into New taxes

In another first in years, the National Treasury has not proposed any new income taxes under the 2021 Finance Bill.

Nevertheless, Kenyans will not be spared from greater taxes as the government strives to meet growing spending plans.

For instance, bread will see its tax status shift from zero rating to exempt effectively raising costs for the basic consumer commodity.

At the same time, the cost of importing motorcycles, popularly termed as bodaboda will shoot up with Treasury proposing the adjustment of excise duty on the imports from a flat Ksh.11, 608.23 to a rate of 15 per cent.

At the same time, jewelry and alternative tobacco products such as nicotine pouches will attract excise duty at the rate of 10 per cent and Ksh.5000 per kilogram respectively.

Punters will also be hit as the 20 per cent excise duty on amounts wagers returns after its temporarily deletion last year.

Besides taxes, other proposals in the Finance Bill seek to empower the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) to better collections including a lengthened period to scrutinize tax payer records up to seven years from the current five.

Further, informants on tax matters will see their reward enhanced to a maximum of Ksh.5 million while the KRA will be allowed to contract third parties in the collection of digital services tax.

Both the budget estimates and proposals in the Finance Bill remain under scrutiny by the National Assembly with the house beginning its deliberations on the two key policy statements on Wednesday.

The pair of policies form the basis of the Appropriations Bill and the 2021 Finance Act, both of which will require final assenting by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

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Swiss Glencore Plc Hints On Reopening Idle Cobalt Mine In DRC

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Glencore Plc could reopen its Mutanda Mining copper and cobalt project in Democratic Republic of Congo by the end of 2021, about two years after idling the mine.

Congo’s new mines minister, Antoinette N’Samba Kalambayi met with representatives from the Swiss company Monday to discuss the restart of the mine, which closed in November 2019, the ministry said in a statement sent to reporters.

Mutanda “will start the commissioning of operations towards the end of this year in order to allow the return to production in 2022,” Glencore said in a separate emailed statement.

A reopening of Mutanda, one of the world’s biggest cobalt mines, comes when there’s renewed demand for battery metals as automakers focus on metal-intensive electric vehicles and global economies shift away from fossil fuels in favor of cleaner technologies that use electricity for energy.

Cobalt and copper are key metals in that transition.

Glencore said in August 2019 that it would close the mine for two years to carry out care and maintenance after prices of cobalt slumped.

Mutanda was responsible for a fifth of global cobalt production in 2018, according to Darton Commodities Ltd., a U.K.-based firm that specializes in the metal.

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Australia Drags China To WTO Over Tough Tarrifs On Wine

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Australia has dragged China to the World Trade Organization to arbitrate in a dispute over heavy tarrifs on wine exports.

Beijing’s imposition of crippling tariffs on Australian wine exports signals worsening tensions between the two countries.

Australian winemakers shipped just 12 million Australian dollars ($9 million) of wines to China in the December quarter, from AU$325 million a year earlier, industry figures showed, confirming that hefty new tariffs have all but wiped out their biggest export market.

The decision “to defend Australia’s winemakers” comes six months after Australia lodged a separate protest at the WTO over tariffs on Australian barley and is in line with the government’s “support for the rules-based trading system”, it said in a statement.

It added, however, that “Australia remains open to engaging directly with China to resolve this issue”.

It is the latest incident in an escalating tussle between Australia and its largest trading partner and follows warnings by Prime Minister Scott Morrison that his government would respond forcefully to countries trying to use “economic coercion” against it.

China in November slapped tariffs of up to 218 percent on Australian wines, which it said were being “dumped” into the Chinese market at subsidised prices.

The crackdown virtually closed what had been Australia’s biggest overseas wine market, with sales falling from Aus$1.1 billion (US$ 840 million) to just Aus$20 million, according to official figures.

“The actions taken by the Chinese government have caused serious harm to the Australian wine industry,” Trade Minister Dan Tehan said at a press conference announcing the decision to lodge a formal dispute with the WTO.

“We would love to be able to sit down and be able to resolve these disputes” directly with the Chinese, he said, but added that lower-level official contacts had failed to make progress.

“We will use every other mechanism to try and resolve this dispute and other disputes that we have with the Chinese government,” he said.

Tehan acknowledged that the dispute process within the WTO was difficult and estimated it would take two to four years for any resolution.

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Inkomoko Donates 500 Smartphones To Refugees For World Refugee Day Through #ConnectRwanda

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Timed with World Refugee Day, Inkomoko is fulfilling its #ConnectRwanda campaign pledge by donating 500 smartphones to entrepreneurs across Rwanda.

This weekend, as the world celebrates World Refugee Day on Sunday, June 20, Inkomoko is working with MTN Rwanda, the Ministry of ICT and Innovation, the Ministry in Charge of Emergency Management, and UNHCR to distribute the majority of the 500 phones to refugee and host community entrepreneurs, increasing their access to government services, financial products, and overall digital connectivity for their small businesses.

Initiated by MTN Rwanda, in partnership with the Ministry of ICT and Innovation, the #ConnectRwanda campaign was launched in December 2019, with the objective of providing smartphones to unconnected households across Rwanda to leverage the digital economy.

Since then, private companies, government institutions and individuals have come together to connect all Rwandans through technology.

Inkomoko’s phone donation, as part of World Refugee Day, aligned with their larger strategy to digitize services and provide increased access to finance for refugee and host community entrepreneurs.

These pivots have emerged as Inkomoko adapted to helping entrepreneurs adjust to new ways of working during COVID-19.

Phone distribution will launch in the Gihembe Refugee Camp where Inkomoko has been working since 2016. 

“During COVID-19, movement restrictions limited how we could provide services in refugee communities. Like most businesses, it forced us to quickly develop digital offerings that would work for our clients. Because we were able to make expedient digital implementations and because 39% of our Inkomoko staff are refugees themselves, we were able to continuously serve our entrepreneurs despite movement restrictions,” says Olive Ashimwe, Inkomoko’s Regional Director of Refugee Affairs.

The 500 donated smartphones fortify Inkomoko’s track record of financial inclusion, as Inkomoko is also rolling out a new digital loan app that will increase access to business financing for refugee and host communities.

This mobile loan app for smartphones is available in Kinyarwanda, English, French, and Swahili, and will help Inkomoko to diversify access points for financing across the country, a key request from entrepreneurs.

All of the phones donated by Inkomoko will come preloaded with their app.

Last year for World Refugee Day, Inkomoko partnered with the Mastercard Foundation to release US$2.6million in COVID-19 relief grants to more than 3,500 refugee and host community entrepreneurs.

One year later they have released data showing that as a result of their grants, businesses were able to generate more than US$10 million in new revenue and they employ more than 20,000 people throughout Rwanda. In addition, 98% of closed businesses have re-opened. 

“Inkomoko’s work with entrepreneurs has consistently shown that investing in refugee businesses is catalytic for economic development at-large. We are able to provide new growth opportunities for our clients in refugee communities by bringing new investments and digital solutions,” says Julienne Oyler, Inkomoko’s CEO.

Looking ahead, Inkomoko has pledged to support more refugee and host community entrepreneurs, including providing 25,000 refugee households with access to affordable capital in the coming years, all facilitated by more digital solutions.

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