Business

Kenyan Ministries on the spot for under-reporting State revenue

KENYA: Several Government ministries and agencies failed to remit billions of shillings of internally generated cash to the Treasury in the first half of this financial year. Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich The Quarterly Economic and Budgetary Review covering the first-half of 2013/14 shows that collections of ministerial Appropriations-in-Aid (AIA) or internally generated funds recorded an under-performance of Sh19.4 billion for the first half of the current financial year. “Part of the shortfall in Appropriation-In-Aid collection is explained by the delay in information on collections by a majority of the ministries, departments and universities,” Treasury says. For the six months to December 2013, the Government received Sh14.289 billion in AIA against a target of Sh33.684 billion, a shortfall in revenue that heavily hit implementation of budgeted programmes. “Under-reporting of AIA has been a major issue. But we will get the actual expenditure returns at the end of the financial year when the books are audited,” National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich told Weekend Business. Controller of Budget Agnes Odhiambo has already raised the alarm over failure by several ministries and agencies to account for the collections. Non-remittance of funds could open loopholes through which billions of taxpayers’ funds are lost or mismanaged. Ms Odhiambo said incomplete expenditure returns by the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) affected the smooth implementation of the budget during the first three months of July to September in the 2013/2014 financial year. She said a number of MDAs had more expenditure than Treasury issued during the period under review. For instance, the Ministry of Transport and Information sector spent a colossal Sh4.6 billion against a Treasury release of Sh700 million, while Education, Science and Technology spent Sh25.8 billion against a release of Sh20 billion. Exchequer release Others include Defence, which spent Sh16.6 billion against a Treasury release of Sh14.7 billion, Environment, Water and Natural Resources which spent Sh2.3 billion against an exchequer release of Sh2.1 billion and the mining sector, which spent Sh30 million against Sh10 million. Land, Housing and Urban Development spent Sh900 million against a Treasury release of Sh500 million, while the Witness Protection Authority spent Sh40 million despite not having been allocated any Treasury release. The latest concern also comes amid growing suspicions over the basis of the Sh797 million found to have been over-spent in payment of debt, pensions and salaries for constitutional office holders. “Financial reports submitted to the Controller of Budget do not provide complete information on how much is collected as AIA,” said Odhiambo, adding, “ Failure to disclose AIA affects the accuracy of the expenditure reports. “To ensure accuracy of the quarterly financial reports, MDAs should report all AIA collected during the period,” she said. “The pension returns do not clearly show the source of the over expenditure. There is need for transparency in the public financial management for both the national and county governments.” This also comes at a time when Treasury is cash-strapped as revenue collection fell short of target. Already, Treasury has suspended a number of projects such as the implementation of the new Civil Servants Pension Scheme, and cut down on wasteful spending, especially foreign travel and hospitality. Treasury data shows that as at the end of December 2013, total revenue collection, including AIA, was below the target by Sh29.8 billion. Source The Standard

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Portland eyes growth as it sets up another plant

KENYA: The new East African Portland Cement chairman William Lay has expressed optimism that the company will recoup lost business. New East African Portland Cement chairman William Lay Mr Lay, who is the former CMC Motors Chief Executive, said during a Press briefing that his focus is on gaining back the lead in the cement market. The cement maker lost about 11 per cent market share within three years to the current 21 per cent. “Prospects are that the cement market will be growing and thus we should be prepared to take the lead in the growth,” Lay said. Lay, who termed internal wrangles “side shows”, said the company will be cutting the cost of the product and ensuring that there is enough supply to the consumers. The company’s CEO, Kepha Tande, attributed the decline of the firm’s fortunes to stiff competition due to the entry of new players in the market. “The CEO has no objection on the appointment of the chairman. My duty is to co-operate with Lay as the court has now cleared the storm that had crippled daily operations. Three years have been marred by wrangles but we have weathered the storm,” said Tande. Tande said the firm has also stopped operating in South Sudan due to the crisis in the country. . He, however, expressed optimism in the Ugandan market and in Arusha, Tanzania, saying that they would double the production of cement from the current capacity of 2 million tonnes. Tande said the firm will be setting up another milling plant in Kajiado County within the next three years. “We want to make the company more efficient in its milling capacity by bringing in new machinery,” said Tande. Portland has been embroiled in a long and bruising shareholders’ war centred mainly around Government’s determination to have a new team shepherd the cement firm, a move that has been difficult with Lafarge’s upper hand on the board.

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DStv Uganda launches new Explora Decoder: “The best TV just got better”

MultiChoice Uganda through its DStv brand has announced another innovation milestone with the launch of its next-generation PVR decoder – the DStv Explora. This move heralds an exciting new era for digital television which allows viewers to gain more control and personalize their DStv viewing experience. The purchase price for the Explora in Uganda will be UGX 958,000 for the decoder only and UGX1,160,000 for the full kit. The Explora introduces additional new features and offers more recording space, providing DStv subscribers with a world of extraordinary entertainment. With the Explora subscribers can now: View more – with much more Catch Up, viewers can save up to 220 hours of personal recorded content, view one programme while recording the other and record lots more series, movies and sport; Discover more – with content discovery, viewers can search for their favorite programmes and find out when next they will air again without surfing the TV guide; And Control more – where viewers can pause live TV for up to 2 hours, retain buffering when changing channels, conduct word searches and even personalize individual user themes. “It is another innovation which bears testament to our continued investment in technology to ensure DStv delivers the best television experience in Uganda. The Explora forms part of the businesses fast technology developments and ensures that our subscribers get the best viewer experience.  We can only appreciate the evolution of television that our subscribers have enjoyed as result of some of our exciting innovative products we have introduced over the years such as the Explora” says Charles Hamya, General manager MultiChoice Uganda. With its ability to meet the most unique viewer needs in the fast changing world, the Explora is an unparalleled technological innovation set to change television as we know it while providing convenience to meet DStv subscriber’s busy and demanding lives.  The Catch Up services provide a rich, high-definition video-on-demand experience. Expanded Video-on-Demand Content – Catch Up The DStv Catch Up service has been significantly expanded on the Explora, and now offers three times more video-on-demand programming to DStv subscribers.  This means that viewers will always be able to catch-up with all the hot new TV series. DStv Explora is packaged with a brand new, stylish HD user interface, which makes finding favourite shows or movies on Catch Up so much easier. Content is displayed using HD poster-art – just like an Internet VOD service.   The Explora additionally has powerful search features that help subscribers find programmes quicker and easier as it searches across the eight-day TV Guide, Catch Up, and their own recordings (playlist). Explora’s remote control further enhances the experience with dedicated shortcut buttons to DStv Central, Catch Up, Playlist, Search, Live TV and other viewing options. Through the Explora, you will never miss your favorite programme ever again!

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Global Travel Industry shows its support for WTM Africa

International travel and hospitality heavyweight brands such as TripAdvisor, Hilton Worldwide, Starwood and the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group are among the many exhibitors signing up for the inaugural WTM Africa. TripAdvisor, one of the world’s largest travel sites, which boasts more than 125 million reviews, is excited about participating in the show. “WTM Africa’s inaugural event this year in Cape Town gives us a great opportunity to connect with a growing market,” said Doros Theodorou, Commercial Director, EMEA, TripAdvisor for Business. “We hope to explain the value that TripAdvisor can bring to hospitality businesses in Africa that want to connect with our 260 million unique users globally, and how they can benefit from using TripAdvisor’s online marketing services,” explained Theodorou. Also amongst the confirmed exhibitors are Hilton Worldwide, featuring ten brands and 4,000 hotels across 90 countries and The Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group – one of the fastest growing chains in the world which offers brands such as Radisson Blu, Park Inn by Radisson and Hotel Missoni. WTM Africa, which takes place on 2-3 May in Cape Town, will also feature tourist office exhibitors from across the world, including Turkey, Dubai and France. Bailey Gorst, Account Manager, Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing DTCM Southern Africa said, “Africa and Southern Africa in particular, are an important source market for DTCM, but until now we have sorely lacked the type of international travel trade exhibition opportunities.  So we are delighted that the inaugural WTM Africa provides a platform for us to bring our key suppliers to exhibit alongside us and we are excited about reaching key selected buyers from all over Africa and beyond.” Travel agents signing up include Travel Spirit of India and Portugal’s Viagens Abreu, which claims to be the world’s oldest travel agency. Major Asian destinations will be present on the exhibition floor such as Malaysia, Singapore’s Changi Airport Group, Thailand and tour operator Asia King from Vietnam. Regional tour operator, Khiri Travel, who specialise in in-bound tours to Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam will also be exhibiting at WTM Africa.

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Small holder farmers are the solution to poverty — UN

The UN agricultural development fund has been asked to focus more on promoting small holder farmers to reduce poverty. The call was made during the 37th session of the Governing Counsel of IFAD in Rome. Supporting smallholder agriculture breaks the vicious cycle of poverty while preserving scarce natural resources Fabrizio Saccomanni, the Italian minister for economy and finance, asserted that ensuring small holder family farmers have adequate access to credit and investment is of paramount importance for poverty reduction. Speaking to international policy makers, farmer leaders and private sector representatives, Saccomanni said that while some progress had been made, much remains to be done to eliminate hunger and poverty. “The challenges ahead require a radical increase in agricultural productivity, but this has to be pursued in a sustainable way,” he said. “Supporting smallholder agriculture is the way-out, as evidence and research show; it breaks the vicious cycle of poverty while preserving scarce natural resources.” IFAD is a specialised UN agency and international financial institution that provides investment funding aimed at creating a route out of poverty for rural people in developing countries, most of which are involved in Agriculture. Uganda is one of the developing countries where 67% of the population is said to be vulnerable to poverty with about a third of that number living under poverty line. The 2012 expenditure review said that 92% of the poor live in rural areas and overall 89% of the country’s estimated 36m people are classified as rural. The country’s mainstay is agriculture, but most of the farmers are subsistence farmers, whose livelihoods are threatened by the changing climate and lack of assistance to mitigate increasing loss of soil fertility and droughts. In his statement, Abdullah Jummah Al-Shibli, Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Affairs of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) underscored that farming families are important for socio-economic development and stability. Women have a particular role to play in food security and through their empowerment, poverty can be eradicated, he emphasized IFAD President, Kanayo Nwanze, welcomed farmers’ representatives and delegates from IFAD’s 173 Member States, including its newest member, the Russian Federation, which announced its commitment to support the replenishment of IFAD’s resources. In his speech, Nwanze stated that today agriculture has an unprecedented potential to drive economic development and inclusive growth.

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Uganda fails to access $4m fund

Uganda’s access to the $4m (about sh10b) aid to trade hangs in the balance, after the Enhanced Integrated Framework (EIF) Programme officials said the trade ministry is submitting conflicting project proposals. The Geneva-based EIF officials said Uganda seems undecided on whether to claim the money or not, although it is entitled to it. The fund is part of the Aid for Trade, an arrangement in which wealthier nations agreed to fund poor ones to fully participate in international trade. One trade related project would be funded per recipient country According to the EIF Secretariat in Geneva, Uganda has sent a number of conflicting project proposals. They include proposals for silk production, aloe vera, gum Arabica, honey and tourism and hospitality training. “We are confused as to what Uganda wants. We want the Government to agree on one project proposal in which the country has a clear competitive advantage and inform us accordingly,” said the EIF Executive director Dr. Ratnakar Adhikari in a recent visit to Uganda. However, Henry Nyakoojo, the Technical Advisor for EIF in the trade ministry says Uganda has the option of sending a number of proposals from which the EIF can choose what to fund. “I have heard this talk of competitive advantage and priorities before,” said Nyakoojo. “I think we are able to determine what our priorities are as a country.” Dr. Adhikari, however, commended Uganda for good implementation of previous EIF projects. He cited the training of District Commercial Officers to effectively facilitate trade at district and village level. The EIF project contributed to the formulation of trade related legislations and policies in the country, including the Consumer Protection Bill, Anti Counterfeit Bill, Trade Licensing Amendment Bill, Regulation for Hire Purchase Act and Competition Policy. By Joe Nam, The New Vision

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Chinese envoy hails Tanzania’s strategies

Tanzania is on course to become the regional economic power house with its vast natural gas resources and major energy and infrastructure projects currently being undertaken, the Chinese Ambassador, Lu Youqing, has said. Chinese Ambassador to Tanzania, Mr Lu Youqing He said in Dar es Salaam on Wednesday that Tanzania would have the potential of becoming the regional centre for trade, manufacturing, logistics and IT upon completion of the major gas pipeline project this year and other mega electricity projects as well as the proposed construction of the Bagamoyo port. “China has strong confidence that Tanzania will develop to become the driving force in the East African region,” he said at an event to mark Chinese New Year organised in Dar es Salaam by Standard Chartered Bank. Tanzania is currently undertaking construction of a major 538km gas pipeline from Mtwara to Dar es Salaam which is scheduled to be completed this year. The 538km long pipeline is estimated to cost about US$1.2 billion which is funded through a concessional loan from the Export- Import Bank of China. Construction of a US$10 billion Bagamoyo Port project under financial support of Chinese government is also expected to take off this year. The new port project will also include construction of a railway network and special economic zone in Bagamoyo town. The Chinese envoy said Tanzania had the potential to become the regional centre of tourism due to rich tourists attractions including three out of seven wonders of the world. He said Tanzania will receive more tourists from China as the Asian economic powerhouse is the biggest tourist source country in the world. He said China would work with Tanzania to improve tourist infrastructure such as hotels and transport service to make it a top tourist destination. Mr Youqing said trade relations between Tanzania and China had continued to flourish with trade volume reaching US $3.7 billion annually. Tanzania is the biggest trade partner of Tanzania and is the second largest foreign investor. We are in every sector that is urgent…that needs to be developed… infrastructure, energy… everywhere you see Chinese investments. The envoy attributed the recent Chinese business and investments boom in Tanzania to a deliberate move to encourage Chinese businesses to establish big investments in Tanzania. Tanzania and China have strong bilateral and trade relations dating in the 1960s when China agreed to construct the Tanzania and Zambia Railway line from Dar es Salaam to Kapiri Mposhi, Zambia.

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