8th January 2021 Trade & Financial Services Round Up

January 8, 2021 - 5 minutes read
KENYA

The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) has been developing the National Payments System (NPS) Vision and Strategy. The vision and strategy document has been developed on a consultative basis, with the participation of industry and other stakeholders through various meetings and engagement processes. In keeping with this process, CBK invites comments and suggestions on the draft “Kenya National Payments System Vision and Strategy, 2021 – 2025.” These should be sent to the email address NPSstrategy@centralbank.go.ke not later than close of business on Friday, January 22, 2021

Invitation for Public Comments on the draft “Kenya National Payments System Vision and Strategy, 2021 – 2025”

Kenyans’ long-term savings fall to Sh1.4trn as Covid bites

Kenyans ate into their long-term savings in the second half of last year as they looked to make ends meet amid job losses and economic hardships brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Latest data from the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) shows that fixed deposits held in commercial banks shrank for the fourth straight month in November, dropping to Sh1.478 trillion from the all-time high of Sh1.553 trillion recorded in July.

At the same time, demand deposits—cash available for withdrawal in banks— maintained an upward trajectory to hit an all-time high of Sh1.44 trillion, indicating that people were looking to have their cash within easy reach.

Fixed deposits accounts hold cash for a specified period of time and cannot be freely withdrawn until the end of the set period, with those breaking the fixed deposit liable to pay a penalty or earn lower interest.

The shrinking in long-term savings has been largely blamed on the Covid economic hardships as people continue to struggle with reduced income and have less cash to save compared to the pre-Covid period.

Source: Business Daily

Kenyans spend Sh16.2bn on remote working gadgets

Kenyan families and businesses spent Sh16.29 billion in the first seven months of Covid restrictions to import telecommunications equipment such as laptops, smartphones, computers and networking devices to set up remote work stations.

The expenditure in April-October 2020 was KES7.45 billion, or 84.28 percent, more than the Sh8.84 billion reported in a similar period a year earlier, according to provisional data collated by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS).

The social-distancing guidelines to stem the spread of coronavirus, which first struck on March 13, have not only altered workplaces, but also the way meetings are conducted.

As a result, companies and workers prioritised investment in IT-enabled infrastructure to facilitate remote working and meetings, a trend corporate executives said is here to stay.

The guidelines have resulted in most corporate meetings and seminars being conducted on video-conferencing platforms such as Zoom, Skype, Microsoft Teams, BlueJeans and Cisco Webex.

Such meetings require laptops or desktop computers or smartphones fitted with networking gadgets to connect.

Source: Business Daily

UGANDA

Shilling is likely to remain stable in 2021 – Central Bank

Despite economic challenges internally and globally, the Uganda shilling registered improved performance. Bank of Uganda says on average, the shilling depreciated by 0.38 per cent in 2020 compared to an appreciation of 0.6 per cent in 2019.

Exchange rate changes between currencies influence the behaviour of several macroeconomic variables over a varying time horizon.

Currency depreciation, for example, can be expected to affect the demand for money, aggregate demand, and the levels of prices and output, as well as to induce external and internal relative price shifts that alter the composition of the expenditure.

The executive director of research Bank of Uganda, Dr Adam Mugume told Daily Monitor on January 4 that the shilling has largely been stable in 2020 despite the Covid-19 pandemic that affected foreign exchange inflows, especially the tourism receipts.

Source: The Monitor

IRA backtracks on car trackers directive

The Insurance Regulatory Authority (IRA) has rescinded its earlier directive ordering all general insurers to ensure the public pre-install car tracking systems before they sign up for a motor comprehensive policy.

In a December 30 circular, IRA noted that the requirement for car trackers in vehicles would interfere with government’s grand plan of a transport management system.

Source: The Monitor

Electoral uncertainty limits investment – business leaders

Investors are taking a ‘wait and see’ approach as they put off key investment decisions ahead of the general election next week. Most investors are keeping their purse closed until after elections when they are certain about the future and the direction of the country.

 According to the private sector apex body in the country, investors— both local and international – have gone through hard times in 2020, due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the resultant containment measures instituted by the government since March last year.

This has resulted into scaling down investments that would have been injected into the economy. But the biggest concern holding investors from opening their wallets is the looming general election, just a week away.

Source: The Monitor

URA plans to extend Covid-19 tax administrative measures

Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) has said that it will extend most of the administrative measures created in light of covid-19 pandemic to encourage tax compliance from the public.

 Mr John Musinguzi, the commissioner general (CG) URA while addressing journalists at the end of the year, revealed that the taxman is considering extending the measures into 2021.

“The administrative decisions or incentives put by URA, we are already reviewing those and we shall be happy to extend some of these into the next year. We shall extend a number of these such as alternative dispute resolution, voluntary disclosure among others,” he said as they foresee more adverse effects of Covid-19 on the economy in the second half of the financial year.

According to the CG, the measures have proved important and useful to both the tax payers and authority.

Source: The Monitor

TANZANIA

Repo rate slightly ‘heads south’ to 5.6pc

A REVERSE repurchase agreement (repo) rate has minutely decreased, but the amount is insignificant to encourage banks to sell back securities.

The rate on average has gone down by 0.1 percentage point to 5.6 per cent in last November compared to 5.7 per cent registered in October.

According to the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) latest monthly economic review, reverse repo worth 327.5bn/- was auctioned, compared to 462.9bn/- in the preceding month.

“The Bank of Tanzania continued to conduct reverse the repurchase agreement to moderate a short-term liquidity position of banks,” the report shows. A decrease in repo rates encourages banks to sell securities back to the government in return for cash. “This increases the money supply available to the general economy,” a money market analyst told the ‘Daily News’.

Conversely, by increasing repo rates, central banks can effectively decrease the money supply by discouraging banks from reselling these securities.

Source: Tanzania Standard Newspapers Ltd

Arise acquires Rabobank over 30pc stake in NMB

ARISE has officially acquired 34.9-per cent shareholding previously owned by Rabobank in NMB Bank. NMB Bank, one of the largest banks in the country, is listed on Dar es salaam Stock Exchange (DSE).

Late last December, the Capital Market and Securities Authority (CMSA) approved the transfer of 174,500,000 the lender’s shares owned by Rabobank to Arise, an investment arm.

Arise Chief Executive Officer Deepak Malik said the conclusion of share transfer was a milestone for Arise.

Source: Tanzania Standard Newspapers Ltd

 Dar Exchange starts year on right foot

The Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange (DSE) has started the year on a right foot after seeing the rise of share prices which goes against the norm of the month of January.

The bourse saw domestic shares namely Jatu, DSE and CRDB appreciating between 1.0 and 10 per cent and defying the tradition of stock depreciation in the first month of the year.

According to DSE daily market reports, Jatu led the pack after gaining by 9.82 per cent to 3,580/- in the first two trading days of the year, followed by CRDB by 2.56 per cent to 200/- and DSE by 1.14 per cent to 890/-.

The Tanzania Securities Wednesday market report for domestic listed firms showed that the market picked up on the second day of trading where seven counters were active of which three registered share gains.

Source: Tanzania Standard Newspapers Ltd

Third phase digital tax stamps deadline to beverage firms looms

Producers and importers of carbonated soft drinks and bottled water have until end of this month to affix their products with Electronic Tax Stamps (ETS) when the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) implements the third phase of the system.

The latest phase will also include local and imported fruit and vegetable juices in addition to recorded music and film products.

Through a notice issued by the Commissioner General of TRA, Dr Edwin Mhede, on October last year, the tax collector announced commencement of the third phase on rolling out of the digital stamps effective November last year.

However, the producers and importers were given a grace period of three months which ends on January this year to clear stock which was not affixed with the digital stamps, after which all the said products must be stamped electronically.

Source: Tanzania Standard Newspapers Ltd

ETHIOPIA

Trade, Industry Council Draft Law Vital to Advance Private Sector Role in Economy

Revision of laws and building a strong structure for the business community in Ethiopia is crucial for advancement of the private sector’s role to the national economy, Ministry of Trade and Industry State Minister said.

Some 12 regional council members and 6 associations of Ethiopian Chamber of Commerce and Sectoral Association (ECCSA) held a consultative meeting today to enrich the draft proclamation developed  to substitute  Chamber of Commerce and Sectorial Association proclamation.

 Trade and Industry State Minister Eshete Asfaw said on the occasion that the revision of law and strong structure that complies with current dynamics of the country is vital to increase the role of the private sector in the economic activities of the country.

Countries with strong chambers’ structure have modern trade, improved competitiveness, enhanced industrialization and investment, Eshete noted.

The draft proclamation has focused on manufacturing and industry, he added.

Source: ENA

Gondar City, Surroundings Lure about 3.8 Billion Birr Investment

Some 75 Investors with close to 3.8 billion Birr registered capital have obtained licenses to operate in Gondar city and the surroundings during the past five months, according to the city administration.

In an exclusive interview with Ethiopian News Agency, Gondar City Administration Industry and Investment Department Head Bayu Abuhai said the bureau has issued licenses for 75 of the investors interested in investing in agro-processing, large-scale farming, services, manufacturing, and others.

Source: ENA

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