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Pope names first woman to senior Vatican diplomatic post : The Standard

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Pope Francis named the first woman to hold a high-ranking post in the Secretariat of State, the male-dominated Vatican’s diplomatic and administrative nerve center.

Italian lay woman Francesca Di Giovanni, who was named by Pope Francis as the first woman to hold a high-ranking post in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, is pictured at the Vatican, December 23, 2013. Picture taken December 23, 2013. [Vatican Media/Handout via REUTERS]

Italian lay woman Francesca Di Giovanni, 66, will assume a newly-created post in a division known as the Section for Relations with States where she takes the rank of under-secretary, effectively one of two deputy foreign ministers.
The Roman Catholic Church allows only men to be ordained as priests and women have traditionally been consigned to the shadows of its administration.
However, women’s groups, including the International Union of Superiors General (UISG), an umbrella group of Catholic nuns, have long called on the pope to appoint more females to senior jobs within the Vatican bureaucracy.

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They cite figures showing that more than half of the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics are women and that membership of female religious orders is about three times larger than male orders.
A Vatican statement confirming Di Giovanni’s appointment said she would oversee multilateral relations in the Secretariat where she has worked since 1993. Di Giovanni is a specialist in international law and human rights.
She told the official Vatican website Vatican News that her appointment was “unprecedented” though “the responsibility is connected to the job, rather than to the fact of being a woman”.

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She added: “A woman may have certain aptitudes for finding commonalities, healing relationships with unity at heart. I hope that my being a woman might reflect itself positively in this task, even if they are gifts that I certainly find in my male colleagues as well.”
The Vatican, a sovereign state surrounded by Rome, has diplomatic relations with more than 180 countries.

SEE ALSO :Pope compares politicians who rage against gays to Hitler

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Despite the pope’s promises to appoint more women to decision-making jobs in the Vatican, Di Giovanni joins only about half a dozen others holding them.
The two most prominent are Barbara Jatta, head of Vatican Museums, and Cristiane Murray, deputy head of the press office.
Last year, Francis also appointed four women as first female councillors for the Synod of Bishops, a department founded more than 50 years ago that prepares major meetings of world bishops held every few years on a different topic.  


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Financial tips couples should never ignore : The Standard

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As unromantic as money may sound, it is impossible to avoid talking about it if you hope to be successful as a couple. Your marriage partner can either be the reason for your success or contribute to your failure.

Therefore, you need to ask the right questions before committing to marriage. Discuss everything, and talk about money as often as possible until you achieve a shared vision.
Here are five ways to get on the same page when it comes to your financial future.
1. Be transparent

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Cultivate openness and transparency in your financial affairs. Know each other’s current incomes, expenses, debts and liabilities.
Come clean on your student loans, credit card debts, child or spousal support and what you send home for your parents or spend on your siblings.
Secrets not only put a couple at risk of not meeting their family goals, but threaten the survival of the marriage.

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2. Make plans jointly
Set long-term goals together. Think about your five, 10, 20, 30-year plans and write them down. There’s something powerful about seeing your dreams down on paper.

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Set retirement goals. Prioritise and work on a joint budget and share responsibilities. Set money aside for shared objectives – such as education, buying land or investing in shares.
3. Don’t rush into setting up a joint account
You don’t have to combine finances immediately you say ‘I do’. Take the time to learn each other’s spending habits to avoid conflict down the line. To start off, you can maintain separate accounts and open a joint account with clear budget lines and agree on how both of you will contribute to the kitty and how the money will be managed.
To build trust, maintain accurate records, including for expenditure that doesn’t have receipts, such as buying vegetables from the estate Mama Mboga.
Operating a joint account should be a gradual process. If one partner is an impulsive spender or hides certain expenditure, it’s not advisable to operate a joint account as it will only lead to conflict.

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4. Respect each other’s diversity
Do not micromanage each other. Everyone has things they do for themselves that make them happy and boost their self-esteem.
This could be a hobby, buying make-up or clothes, or membership in a club or society. Rather than belittling something your spouse considers important, figure out how to work it into the budget.
You can agree to set aside some cash that each of you can spend as you wish without having to account for it.
5. Hold money dates to nurture team work

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Hold regular money dates to brainstorm, share ideas, discuss your goals and evaluate your financial standing. These meetings are important for a couple’s growth.
You’re either growing together or growing apart, so make a conscious effort to grow together. Joint planning is crucial whether both partners are earning an income or not.


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Robust engagement between Kenya & UK expected at London Summit

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Amb. Esipisu said that the summit will provide a forum for the Governments of Kenya and the UK on areas of cooperation/Courtesy

, LONDON, United Kingdom, 18  – The stage is set for robust engagement between Kenyan and UK business people during the forthcoming UK-Africa Investment Summit, the Kenyan High Commissioner to the UK Ambassador Manoah Esipisu has said.

Briefing the press in London ahead of the inaugural conference scheduled for January 20, Amb. Esipisu said Kenya is at the centre of the UK’s engagement with Africa.

“Three billion pounds worth of UK investment is in Kenya while most of our exports outside East Africa come here as well as to destinations such as the US,” Amb. Esipisu pointed out.

He added that the Kenyan diplomatic mission in the UK looks forward to welcoming the Kenyan delegation led by President Uhuru Kenyatta coming to the UK for the summit.

“We do expect robust engagement between Kenyan and UK business people about the areas in which investment is clear,” the High Commissioner assured.

Amb. Esipisu said that the summit will provide an opportunity for a robust discussion between the Governments of Kenya and the UK on areas of cooperation.

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“As you know, Kenya has always trumpeted trade and investment, and we do expect that these are the areas that they will focus on for the prosperity of the people of Kenya as well as the prosperity of the people of the United Kingdom,” Amb Esipisu outlined.

Highlighting the investment opportunities in Kenya, Principal Secretary for Petroleum Andrew Kamau said Kenya will be looking to pursue mutually beneficial partnerships with UK investors in the production of sufficient renewable energy to support the implementation of Kenya’s Big 4 Agenda.


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IMF reveals Kenya debt could be more than Sh6.2 trillion : The Standard

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Former National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich is once again on the spotlight, after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) accused his team of using technicalities to conceal the true position of the country’s debt.
Falling short of accusing the Treasury mandarins of cooking numbers, IMF called out the Exchequer for blindfolding the public by using different debt-ceilings when calculating the sustainability of the country’s debt.
The muddling up of debt figures has left Kenyans confused on the true financial position of the country. This means that it is not possible to tell whether Kenya is able to meet all its debt obligations.

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“While the 2015 Legal Notice sets a maximum debt level of 50 per cent of GDP in NPV (net present value) terms, budget documents instead assess debt to be sustainable — and therefore acceptable — if it is less than 70 per cent of GDP in NPV terms,” reads IMF’s fiscal transparency report released this week.
The law has since been changed, and the ceiling for public debt shifted from being pegged on the national output, Gross Domestic Product (GDP), to a nominal ceiling of Sh9 trillion. IMF joins Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) Governor Patrick Njoroge in accusing former Treasury CS, together with his Principal Secretary Kamau Thugge, of distorting revenue figures.
In a rare bare-knuckle attack on Rotich’s tenure, Njoroge described the Treasury’s budget-making process as “abracadabra”, where revenue numbers were randomly included in the budget books “from thin air”.

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The Fiscal Transparency Evaluation Update lays bare the financial indiscipline at the Exchequer, which was overseen by Rotich and his Permanent Secretary Kamau Thugge, with the country’s debt surging to Sh6.2 trillion as at December 2019.
Austerity measures

SEE ALSO :CBK boss bemused by Rotich ‘abracadabra’ budget figures

This comes at a time when the Treasury, led by new CS Ukur Yatanni, has aggressively moved to contain its spending in what is aimed at slashing further debt uptake.
Ministries and parastatals have been told that such things as tea, training and conferences will be reduced in far-reaching austerity measures that have also seen the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) aggressively go after tax cheats.
Kenya’s debt has spiraled to Sh6.2 trillion as at December 2019, and going by IMF’s remarks, the figure could be even higher.
In a new report, IMF has also blasted the Exchequer and the KRA for not making public the tax reliefs it has granted to some taxpayers.
The National Treasury CS has the discretion to grant tax exemptions, a process that the IMF now says has been shrouded in secrecy.

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When reached for comment, one of KRA’s spokespersons said the issue of tax exemptions did not fall within the tax agency’s mandate. Instead, they directed us to the National Treasury.
National Treasury PS Julius Muia had not responded to our text message by the time of going to press.
Tax expenditures
The IMF has also turned the spotlight on the country’s taxes, accusing the government of not publishing any regular reports that comprehensively discloses estimated revenue losses from tax expenditures.
This means that the public does not get to know how much the country has foregone in tax revenues through tax reliefs and exemptions.

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“The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) produces a report on annual tax exemptions which is submitted to the Auditor General, but it is not published due to concerns over the reliability of the data,” reads the IMF report.
“Current reporting practices on tax arrears do not comply with the constitutional requirement to publish all tax waivers or the PFM Act’s requirement for publishing an annual report on these exemptions and concessions.”
The IMF capacity development mission came to Nairobi between August 6 and August 19, last year, at the request of the National Treasury. The mission also found out that there was no unit responsible for tax policy issues, either at the National Treasury or KRA. This crippled the performance of KRA, which has been missing its targets.
Already, the taxman has missed its half-year target by Sh88.3 billion, netting Sh857.8 billion.
“Capacity would need to be developed in the KRA and the National Treasury, which still has not created a unit responsible for tax policy issues,” says the report.
The IMF and other development partners had previously provided training on calculating tax expenditures, but most of the government officials involved have left, and the capacity in this area is now low.


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