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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Kenya tax measures will fund U.S. $30 billion dollars budget

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya on Thursday presented a 3.02 trillion shillings (30 billion U.S. dollars) budget for 2019/2020 fiscal year with a raft of austerity and tax measures intended to fund the budget.

National Treasury cabinet secretary Henry Rotich said the budget for the next financial year lays a strong foundation for achieving development plan dubbed the Big Four agenda on affordable housing, manufacturing, food security and universal health care.
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"I have allocated approximately 4.5 billion dollars to the "Big Four" Plan drivers and their enabling sectors," Rotich said in parliament.

He imposed several taxes on leisure spending and proposed to cut down on non-essential spending in government and thus imposed a 10 percent excise duty on betting stakes and taxes on alcoholic drinks and cigarettes.

Rotich said the government would use more efficient cost-cutting approaches, including the use of electronic cards for all public officers travelling within and outside the country.

The cards, he said, will be pre-loaded with subsistence allowance to be expended by officers travelling on official duty on eligible expenditures only. He also cut down on leasing office space and cleansing the wage bill to weed out ghost workers.

"We are laying a firm foundation for accelerated growth and shared prosperity," Rotich said, noting that the total programmed spending under the budget amounts to 28 billion dollars.

He said administrative measures to enhance revenue collection and seal revenue loopholes a number of initiatives were underway, including, sustaining the fight against graft as well as illicit and counterfeit trade that was launched in 2018.

Rotich also said the government will be taking steps to ensure that it manages the country’s mammoth 54 billion dollars debt effectively.

Rotich said that the government continues to stay focused on providing decent and affordable housing for citizens.

 

Kenya Cabinet Secretary for National Treasury Henry Rotich | Coastweek

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for National Treasury Henry Rotich displays a briefcase containing the country’s 2019/2020 Budget at the Treasury offices in Nairobi. XINHUA PHOTO - FRED MUTUNE
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He allocated 105 million dollars to cater for social housing and construction of affordable housing units, including housing Units for the Police and Kenya Prison.

He revealed that with the recent establishment of the Kenya Mortgage Refinance Company (KMRC), Kenyans will now access affordable mortgage loans for purposes of acquiring homes.

Rotich said that in order to enhance food and nutrition security and support farmers, government is reforming its agricultural policies and regulations as well as subsidies to farmers with a view to make them efficient and less prone to rent seeking.

The 2019/20 budget also sets aside 20 million dollars for the National Value Chain Support Programme and 30 million dollars for setting up the Coffee Cherry Revolving Fund to implement prioritized reforms in the coffee sub-sector.

"In the coming financial year, coffee farmers across the country will be able to access the Cherry Advance at a modest interest rate of 3 percent," Rotich added.
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EARLIER REPORTS:

Kenyan economy forecast to grow 6.3 percent in 2019

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya’s economy is projected to grow by 6.3 percent in 2019, the same level as 2018, a government official said Thursday.

Cabinet Secretary for the National Treasury Henry Rotich said that the economy continues to be resilient in the midst of significant global and domestic headwinds.

"We project growth in 2019 to remain strong at around the same level as in 2018.

"While there are risks associated with delayed long rains which may impact negatively on agriculture, we expect such risks to be offset by continued strong performance in non-agricultural activities such as tourism and construction," Rotich said in the 2019/ 2020 Budget speech.

He said that in 2018, the economy grew by 6.3 percent, up from 4.9 percent in the previous year.

"This growth is the highest to have been recorded for the past eight years and well above the sub Saharan Africa regional average growth of 3 percent and the global average of 3.6 percent, reinforcing the advantages of a diversified and reforming economy," said Rotich.

"This strong growth was attained despite the rising global trade frictions among major trading partners as well as uncertainties from Brexit and renewed geopolitical risks," he added.

Rotich said that over the medium term, Kenya’s economic growth is expected to reach more than 7 percent as programmed activities under Kenya’s Big Four agenda on universal healthcare, manufacturing, food security and affordable housing gain traction.

He assured Kenyans that the new budget is going to support and address local business environment.

This, however, is the biggest budget the country has had since independence.

Rotich added that locals should not be worried about the borrowing as long as the government is not using the borrowed money to fund recurrent expenditure.
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European Investment Bank launches project to transform agriculture in Kenya

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- European Investment Bank (EIB) on Wednesday launched a 5.7 billon shillings (57 million U.S. dollars) program to help boost economic opportunities for thousands of small holders across Kenya.

Catherine Collin, European Investment Bank regional representative for East Africa said the Kenya Agriculture Value Chain Facility will seek to transform long-term investments in agriculture in Africa.

"Working with Equity Bank across country, the new Kenya Agriculture Value Chain Facility will help agriculture companies to modernize and harness the full economic, employment and export potential of agriculture as well as expand business with local smallholders," Collin said in Nairobi.

Under the new financing program, agricultural companies across Kenya will be able to access loans with maturities of up to seven years, longer than commonly available in the market.

This, the EIB said, is expected to help companies to expand, upgrade and modernize their equipment thereby improving productivity, and strengthening integration of smallholders into the agricultural value chain.

Collin said the new initiative represents the first dedicated support for long-term investment by agriculture companies in Africa backed by the EIB designed to tackle specific investment gaps currently hindering expansion in the sector.

She said the EIB will strengthen its close cooperation with Kenyan partners to ensure that agricultural investment can increase under an exciting new scheme that acts as a model for EIB engagement across Africa.

Equity Bank is one of the key financial institutions supporting the agricultural sector in Kenya and is a leading provider of financial services to rural communities and smallholders.

Polycarp Igathe, Equity Bank Kenya Managing Director said the bank has aligned its strategy with Kenya’s development agenda to focus on growing the agribusiness portfolio through servicing all segments from retail, to SME to large enterprises and corporate banking customers.

He said the new agriculture financing initiative will address the gap of long-term funding in the sector identified as a key barrier to growth.

Agriculture which is the leading source of economic activity, employment and exports in Kenya contributes directly and indirectly to 51 percent of Kenyan GDP and accounts for 60 percent of jobs in the country, according to government statistics.

             

 

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