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CBK warns public against foreign exchange dealers : The Standard

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Central Bank of Kenya Governor Patrick Njoroge (PHOTO: Standard)

Central Bank has issued warning to Kenyans on mushrooming online foreign exchange dealers and platforms in the country.

The regulator on Friday outlined key characteristics of such dealers and platforms warning unsuspecting Kenyans not to fall prey and lose money to the unregulated platforms.
“We urge members of the public to confirm the licensing status of forex dealers from CBK website before engaging with the dealers, as they risk being defrauded and losing money,” reads a statement from CBK’s Banking Fraud Investigations Department.
In CBK’s list, some of the characteristics of unlicensed dealers and platforms include purporting to offer best forex deals in the market, they collect and or receive funds from customers in exchange for foreign or local currencies and lack of requisite licenses issued by CBK or Capital Markets Authority.

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Other characteristics include downloadable platforms from google play and Apple App store, which are aggressively marketed through social media and mass mails, and inadequate anti-money laundering and consumer protection safeguards.
Information from CBK website on licensing of a forex bureau includes the non-refundable application fee of Sh20000 for new license and Sh10,000 for an outlet of an existing forex bureau.
Other requirements include a declaration that none of its directors or shareholders has ever been declared bankrupt, participated in the management of the collapsed institution, convicted by any court of competent jurisdiction of a criminal offence involving money laundering, tax evasion or fraud.

CBK procedure of licensing foreign exchange dealers (PHOTO: Courtesy)

The Central Bank within 90 days of the date of application request for additional information and where it is satisfied to issue a letter of intent to the applicant.

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In June, neighbouring country Tanzania tightened its currency controls with new regulations on foreign exchange bureaus, in what authorities said is an ongoing fight against money laundering and currency speculation.
The new rules, published by the country’s central bank, come months after the government revoked the licences of around 100 bureaus and temporarily shut a newspaper for using unofficial data on exchange rates.
President John Magufuli has said that the central bank had previously licensed too many bureaus and some of them had breached laws.

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Central Bank of KenyaForex tradeJohn Magufuli

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Treasury Releases Funds to Counties Showing Acceptable Plans to Clear Pending Bills

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A statement from the National Treasury shows that 18 counties that showed acceptable plans to clear pending bills received reimbursements for November.

Acting Treasury CS, Ukur Yattani, says that the 18 counties received Ksh. 11 billion.

The counties include; Baringo, Bomet, Embu, Garissa, Isiolo, Kiambu, Kirinyaga, Kitui, Machakos, Meru, Migori, Mombasa, Nandi, Narok, Taita Taveta, Tana, Tharaka Nithi, Vihiga.

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A further Ksh.7 billion was disbursed to 12 counties that had cleared their pending bills. These include; Elgeyo Marakwet, Homabay, Kajiado, Kericho, Kilifi, Kwale, Laikipia, Makueni, Nyamira, Nyandarua, Nyeri, Uasin Gishu.

Related; Treasury to Withhold Funds for 15 Counties

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Kenyan to Steer Dalberg as Global Managing Partner

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Dalberg Advisors has announced the appointment of Edwin Macharia as Global Managing Partner for a 3-year term. Edwin term commences on 1 January 2020 and succeeds Yana Kakar who had been at the helm since 2013.

Prior to his appointment, Edwin has been with Dalberg for 11 years serving various roles. For instance, he founded Dalberg’s first office in East Africa in 2008, established Agriculture and Food Security Practice, and serves two terms as the Regional Director for Africa.

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“Edwin has spearheaded a lot of innovation into the new business lines within the Group. That will serve him well as he steps forward to lead Dalberg’s biggest and longest-standing business” noted Henrik Skovby, Dalberg’s Founder. 

Dalberg Advisors is a global consulting firm specializing in inclusive and sustainable business, policy, and investment strategy. Moreover, the firm combines strategy consulting, design thinking, big data analytics, and research to address complex social and environmental challenges.

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IMF blames Treasury’s flawed tax system for cash shortage : The Standard

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The decision by the Government to hold on to billions of shillings in tax refunds belonging to the business community has been blamed for the ongoing cash-crisis.

In a special review on the state of the economy in developing countries, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) singled out Kenya’s defective tax system as a major impediment to business growth.
An increasingly difficult operating environment has seen a number of companies shed jobs in droves.
Several surveys, including one conducted by the Central Bank of Kenya, show that optimism among investors has declined. 

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The large accumulation of Value Added Tax (VAT) refunds, which arises when credit for taxes on inputs exceed tax due on sales, is one way that has had a negative bearing on cash flow to businesses, and by extension, to Kenyans’ pockets.
A broad-based tax levied at multiple stages of production, VAT is in most cases levied on both inputs and outputs in the production chain. In Kenya, VAT is charged at the rate of 16 per cent on the final product.
According to the IMF, mechanisms employed by Kenya, Zambia, and Zimbabwe to respond to the challenge of large accumulation of VAT refunds has only made matters worse.

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These countries, said the IMF, have mostly established special tax treatments for particular taxpayer groups. This, explained the global lender, has further complicated administration of VAT.
Other mechanisms that have been adopted to tackle the problem of large accumulation of refunds have involved the buyer withholding part of the VAT that is payable by a supplier, in what is known as Withholding VAT.

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Reverse charge
There has also been the imposition of a “reverse charge,” to ensure that VAT due is paid to the government.
The result for these countries, explained the IMF, has been taxpayers paying more than they receive, thus amplifying the problem it was intended to address.
In a paper that examined the challenges faced by its 59 low-income developing countries, the IMF acknowledges that generally, managing refunds has been a thorny issue for tax administrators all over the world.
In Kenya, the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) has been under pressure to pay tax refunds running into billions of shillings. In a recent joint communique with the Kenya Alliance of Private Enterprises (KEPSA), KRA said it has paid Sh20.4 billion in tax refunds between July 2018 and October this year.

SEE ALSO :Senate slows State bid to grow debt to Sh9tr

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The taxman also established a team to facilitate the clearance of 6,000 VAT refund cases worth Sh27.6 billion outstanding as at the end of October.
In his budget speech, suspended National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich acknowledged that the accumulation of VAT refunds at the KRA due to VAT on zero-rated supplies has impacted negatively on the cash flow and liquidity for manufacturers and the business community at large.
“In order to fast track the return of these funds to the rightful owners, I have constituted a team at the National Treasury to quickly validate the outstanding refunds with a view to clearing them within the next two months,” said Rotich.
But huge refunds have also been a subject of a rigorous audit by the taxman owing to fears that some of these refunds have been fraudulently incurred.
KRA has, for example, unearthed a tax cheat syndicate in which 2,700 companies claimed 16 per cent VAT and 30 per cent relief on corporation tax. Known as the missing trader scheme, the syndicate would have seen the country lose close to Sh10 billion from VAT.

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Guarding against fraud
The IMF notes that in an attempt to guard against such frauds, most low-income countries subject all refund claims to audit, even for taxpayers who regularly apply for refunds such as exporters, and without applying any risk profiling.
“As a result, the processing time for refunds can be months or even years,” states IMF.
The Government plans to reduce Withholding VAT from six per cent to two per cent to unlock funds held in VAT credits.
According to a new amendment to the Value-Added Act, 2103, taxpayers can also simply use the excess Withholding VAT to offset any other tax liability, including Pay As You Earn (PAYE), corporate tax, excise and customs duty
The IMF has recommended that Treasuries set aside part of VAT revenue to cover expected refunds.


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