It is that time of the week again when we look at the news headlines over the last seven days and dissect those that can affect your money.
Welcome to yet another edition of Money Weekly.
Small businesses have been exempt from the KRA’s new eTIMS system following uproar over high compliance costs and insufficient technology adoption. They will now only be required to show transactions. This is a move by KRA to increase the visibility of the amount of business small businesses conduct.
In the same spirit of visibility and transparency, the Cabinet has approved the implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA) to create visibility of government cash resources and transparency in government cash management. The TSA will allow the Treasury to keep tabs on how different government departments are transacting to curb inefficiencies.
Meanwhile, government agencies are making losses with the highest loss registered by the Kenya Railways Corporation, despite the Standard Gauge Railway increasing its revenue and commuters.
Yields on the Eurobond that is maturing in June this year rose by a massive 200 basis points after the government failed to honour its buyback promise. Conflicting updates on debt clearance and recent announcement of eurobond default by Ethiopia are seen by analysts as contributors. .
This is as the Kenyan shilling hits a new low as it breached the Ksh160 mark against the dollar.
Let’s dive in.
The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) is setting up a new system that will require small businesses to show only transactions rather than generating and transmitting electronic invoices through the electronic Tax Invoice Management System (eTIMs)
Almost all VAT taxpayers, primarily large and medium, have been onboarded. This new move is expected to cater more to the lower-end taxpayers.
All VAT-registered taxpayers are required to only accept electronic tax invoices from taxpayers. KRA will not accept invoices from suppliers not captured on e-Tims.
This means if you want to declare a certain transaction as a business expense, you will then need to produce an electronic tax invoice to support it.
Not recognising expenses paid to suppliers not captured in this e-registry will mean the operating costs of an affected business will appear to be lower thus inflating its profits and ultimately increasing its tax obligations.
As of January 1, 2024, less than 1% of all businesses operating in Kenya that were not registered for VAT but were registered for turnover tax, monthly rental income, partnerships, corporation tax, and individual income tax had registered.
The move has now pushed KRA to extend the deadline for the onboarding of the eTIMS system from January 1 to March this year to increase its uptake.
Only 6,000 businesses not registered for VAT but for turnover tax, monthly rental income, partnerships, corporation tax, and individual income tax had onboarded eTIMS before the January 1st deadline.
According to KRA data, registered businesses with a PIN are about 663,000 and are expected to be on board by March 2024.
Government efforts to increase VAT have been successful so far. In the first quarter of the current fiscal year, VAT on local products increased by 21.1 percent to Ksh75.8 billion from Sh62.6 billion a year earlier, while VAT on imports grew by 11.7 percent to Ksh77.2 billion in the review period.
The Cabinet has approved the implementation of the Treasury Single Account (TSA). A TSA account is a single account or a set of interlinked bank accounts managed by the government and used to transact by all government ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs).
The government has made this move for two main reasons.
A TSA account gives central authority to the National Treasury to oversee budget execution. It also cuts administrative costs associated with running multiple bank accounts by the MDAs.
However, the TSA account will exclude government enterprises with operational independence. Initially, it will exclude semi-autonomous government agencies such as the Kenya National Examinations Council (KNEC) and the Higher Education Loans Board (HELB).
The transition to a TSA was announced first in 2016, but regulatory legwork and the required investment in an interlinking system have delayed implementation. The system will have to interlink and automate the National Treasury, the Controller of Budget, and the Central Bank of Kenya.
Kenya's risks on the inaugural Eurobond that is maturing on June 24, this year, have increased due to its failure to fulfil a promised $300 million buyback by December 31, 2023. This has made yields on the $2 billion bond taken in 2014 rise by a massive 200.9 basis points.
The absolute yield rate now stands at 16%, up from a 15-month low of 13%. This is despite the $68.7 million partial payment at the end of last year. The National Treasury, nevertheless, says the buyback plan is still on track to be settled before March.
The government expects to fund the buyback using funds from the IMF, World Bank, and other partners. Furthermore, the government is committed to settling the debt in time despite the additional challenges attributed to defaults by Ghana and Ethiopia on top of a depreciating shilling against the dollar.
Kenya Railways Corporation
According to a Treasury report, the Kenya Railways Corporation made the highest losses among state agencies and semi-autonomous entities, amounting to Ksh33.5 billion. Other entities that made losses include Road Annuity Fund (Ksh12.8 Billion), Kenyatta National Hospital (Ksh3.5 billion); and the Kenya Power and Lighting Company (Ksh3.4 billion).
Standard Gauge Railway
The Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) has kept up a five-year successive annual revenue increase after it reported a 21.2% increase in revenue to reachKsh 18.2 billion in the financial year to June 2023. SGR passengers grew to 2.52 million, while freight haulage grew to 6.29 million tonnes.
National Oil Corporation Kenya
National Oil Corporation Kenya is in a quagmire. At first, the government wanted to privatise the company, but recently, the president suggested revamping the state-owned oil marketer. The CEO, Gideon Morintat, supports the President’s call for capital injection or a total revamp. These utterances have been met with concerns over mismanagement in the organisation, as evidenced in the latest Auditor General’s report.
Kenya Pipeline Company
Plans to privatise Kenya Pipeline Company are seen as a strategic move amid flagged dealings by the Auditor General. The privatisation is aimed at helping with plans to expand and diversify into the regional markets with LPG and LNG. Although the company is profitable, there have been concerns over revenue leakages and insider dealings.
Kenya Ports Authority
Kenya Ports Authority plans to offer end-to-end logistics services, a decision that has been criticised. Critics consider the plan a deviation from KPA's primary mandate, explaining that the move will affect more than 1,200 Kenyan clearing and forwarding firms and jeopardise over 10,000 jobs. This move by KPA aims to improve efficiency and reduce costs.
The High Court has directed the Betting Control and Licensing Board (BCLB) to ensure that gaming operators stop using the speed dials feature on browsers for online advertising.
A browser speed dial is a visual compilation of a user's most visited pages, appearing as thumbnails that, when clicked, link to those pages.
The court order explicitly directs BCLB to ensure all gaming operators cease using speed dials, with a follow-up hearing scheduled for May 9, to address other issues not covered in the consent agreement.
The Kenyan shilling has reached a historic low against the US dollar, breaching the Sh160.23 mark on Monday. This continues a trend of record weakening despite the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) raising interest rates in December to address the local currency's weakness.
The depreciation of the shilling is contributing to a high cost of living, as importers pass on the extra costs to consumers. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) reached a record high in December 2023. Data from Bloomberg ranked the Kenyan Shilling as the seventh worst-performing currency in Africa in the previous year, shedding 20.9% against the US dollar.
On the other hand, Kenya is set to receive a disbursement of Ksh109 billion from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). This disbursement will bring the total financial support to Kenya from the IMF to Ksh427 billion.
The funds are expected to support Kenya's foreign exchange reserves and in navigating the maturity of the Eurobond in June.
Nonetheless, the CBK rejected Ksh12 billion worth of bids in the sale after receiving bids totaling Ksh57.97 billion and accepting Ksh45.96 billion against a target of Ksh24 billion in the T-bill auction.
Interest rates on Treasury bills (T-bills) rose in the latest auction, reflecting investors' adjustment to the recent increase in the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) base rate. Here is how the rates moved.
However, the Treasury has returned to the market to mop up the Ksh12 billion it left on the table with a tap sale. They have issued a new three-year bond and re-opened a five-year bond sold first last July.
Analysts project continued upward pressure on rates due to elevated cash needs by the government to cover budgeted expenditure and debt service in the current month.
A study by the International Labour Organisation predicts an increase in global unemployment by approximately 1.9% in 2024. In Kenya, the unemployment rate was 4.9% as of January last year, according to Trading Economics.
This comes as workers at Kakuzi Plc, an agribusiness and superfoods producer received a 16% pay increase effective January 2024 for the next two years. The Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) was signed with the Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU), benefiting over 3,350 workers at Kakuzi’s Makuyu operations site.
Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) indicates a significant decrease in the consumption of imported spirits, including brandy, gin, whiskey, and rum. The drop in imported spirits is mainly linked to a sharp increase in taxes, including a rise in import duty from 25% to 35%. The decline in demand for spirits marks a reversal of a previous trend where spirits, especially premium liquor, had gained popularity among consumers.
The Anti-Counterfeit Authority (ACA) in Kenya reveals that the country's high demand for cheaper products drives the trade in counterfeit goods. ACA faces difficulties in combating counterfeiting due to a combination of factors, including staff shortages, challenging economic conditions, and porous borders. The trade in counterfeit goods costs Kenya significantly, with an estimated annual loss of Ksh800 billion.
Bolt riders can now cancel a ride by choosing the 'the driver requested payment outside the app' option in certain situations. This functionality enables passengers to promptly respond in scenarios where the driver seeks payment for a trip not facilitated through the app, demands an amount beyond the agreed-upon fare, or suggests cancelling the trip to switch to an offline transaction.
Showmax has reduced its prices in Kenya due to intensifying competition in the video streaming market, fueled by global brands like Netflix, YouTube, Prime, and Amazon. Showmax aims to maintain its lead through a price reduction. Kenyan customers will experience a 14.4% drop in the Showmax Entertainment bundle price in February, now set at Sh650 from the previous Sh760.
Kenya's fish production from aquaculture farming has increased from four to 30 metric tonnes annually. Experts, however, believe Kenya's aquaculture potential could reach 100,000 metric tonnes.Stakeholders are singling out the high cost of fish feed and the lack of certified fingerlings as the foremost challenges facing aquaculture farming in the region.