At a time when economic uncertainty has almost become the new normal, it is more important than ever to be financially savvy and aware of what is going on in the financial world, especially in Kenya.
From borrowers struggling with loan repayments as the number of blacklisted mobile loan accounts hit 19.97 million, to the country facing 1 million cyber threats daily and the government eyeing PAYE, crypto, wigs, etc in the proposed finance bill, we have a lot to unpack this week.
To get us started, the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) has released data showing the highest-paying jobs per sector.
According to KNBS, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are at the top of the list, followed by the energy industry and financial services.
The findings are contained in the 2023 economic survey, which was released on May, 3.
Here is a summary of the top sectors and the average monthly salary in 2022;
The number of negatively listed mobile loan accounts rose by nearly three million (24%) in 2022 underlining the financial crisis that has left Kenyans struggling to clear debts.
According to Metropol, one of the three licensed Credit Reference Bureaus( CRBs), 19.97 million mobile loan accounts in 2022 had more than 90-day arrears, rising from 16.9 million in 2019 and 18.9 million in 2020.
The surge demonstrates that more borrowers are struggling to repay mobile loans, which are easy to access for everyday commitments during economic hardships.
The increase also indicates that most accounts borrowed more than Ksh1,000, removing them from the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK)'s rule that barred the negative reporting of loans less than Ksh1,000.
The surge in blacklisted accounts shows that obtaining credit may become more difficult since lenders are less willing to give credit to those who have been negatively rated or have a greater likelihood to do so at high-interest rates.
The data also shows that the number of mobile loans that were negatively listed last year exceeded the 18.9 million that were listed during the height of the Covid19 pandemic, which reduced borrowers' ability to repay loans.
Along with TransUnion and Creditinfo International, Metropol is one of the three registered CRBs in Kenya.
According to the recently released Economic Survey 2023, Kenyan businesses and individuals are facing a growing number of online threats, with an average of one million online crimes reported daily.
This trend is expected to continue as the cybersecurity sector continues to evolve, with a greater use of cloud services and the high value placed on passwords by malicious actors.
In 2022, the number of cybersecurity advisories surged to 13.7 million from 8 million in the previous year. This increase in advisories coincided with a shift in hackers' focus towards targeting large organisations.
System vulnerabilities increased dramatically over the review period, from 58 million in 2021 to 452.4 million in 2022, according to data from the Economic Survey. The development underscores an urgent need for organisations to give security patching and risk mitigation methods top priority.
On the other hand, attacks on web applications decreased from 7 million in 2021 to 1 million in 2022 thanks to increased investment in web application security and increased awareness of potential threats.
The recent surge in threats has sparked a higher interest in technology-related courses.
A study released in February of this year focused on the online job market, demonstrated an increase in demand for training in web development, cybersecurity, and design.
The National Treasury is seeking to deduct 3% of Kenyans' basic wage for the National Housing Development Fund, which will be matched by another 3% from the employer.
Employees who satisfy the qualification criteria will be expected to use their contributions to purchase a home through the affordable housing program.People who do not qualify for affordable housing will have their contributions transferred to a retirement benefit or pension scheme.
Furthermore, as part of its efforts to increase the tax base, the Treasury proposed that PAYE be graduated from 30% to 35% for individuals earning more than Ksh500,000.
Additionally, betting companies will be compelled to submit excise duty to the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) within 24 hours.
Wigs, human hair, fake beards, eyebrows, and eyelashes will face a 5% excise duty if the Finance Bill 2023 is passed into by the National Assembly.
To empower the taxman, the bill proposes that anyone or entity involved in a dispute with KRA before the Tax Appeals Tribunal deposit 20% of the disputed amount or any security equivalent to the same amount while the matter is being resolved.
Furthermore, a 15% withholding tax will be applied to all income from content monetized by digital content creators.
Still, in the digital domain, the new digital tax will apply to every digital asset transaction, including cryptocurrencies, token codes, and Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs).
The Finance Bill also proposes a change to Section 5 of the Income Tax Act to guarantee that employees' per diem, frequently referred to as cash allowances, are taxed appropriately.
The total amount of cash handled by mobile money agents fell for the first time in a quarter in the three months ending in March, as small transactions took precedence.
According to Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) data, the sum known as agent cash in cash out declined by Ksh5.65 billion to Ksh1.813 trillion from Ksh1.818 trillion in March 2022.
This is the first drop in the first quarter since the banking industry regulator began keeping track of transactions in 2009.
The decline in the amount of cash handled by mobile money agents indicates that clients are visiting the agents less frequently to make cash withdrawals or deposits, resulting in lower transaction values.
Kenyans transacted a remarkable Ksh35.86 trillion through Safaricom's mobile services platform M-Pesa, according to audited figures for the fiscal year ending March 2023.
Safaricom indicated that M-Pesa remains their primary source of revenue.
Total transaction value climbed by 21.4% to Ksh35.86 trillion, while volumes increased by 33.5% to Ksh21.03 billion.
During the announcement of audited results for FY23, Safaricom PLC attributed the increase in M-Pesa income to higher usage and a 16.2% increase in chargeable transactions per one-month active customer.