Sweden supports EAC projects on integration, economic development
The Swedish government has pledged to support EAC projects and programs that relate to integration and economic development. The dialogue between the two parties focused on the on-going institutional review, financing of the Community, trade and investment, the EAC Partnership Fund, negotiations for the Monetary Union Protocol, political federation, Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) negotiations and tripartite talks among COMESA, EAC and SADC as well as human rights issues in Partner States.
Malaba and URA differ on parking charges
Goods in transit have slowed down at Malaba border post due row over parking fees charged on vehicles entering and leaving the country. Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) and transporters are opposed to fees charged by Malaba Town Council but the latter has proceeded with the practice. The town council tax collectors demand for Shs 5,000 for trucks loaded with goods while cars pay Shs 3,000. Congestion occurs as trucks and units fail to comply. This is adversely affecting trade at the border point due to delays that resulting into high cost of doing business.
East African Affairs ministers meet in Arusha
The East African Affairs ministers are meeting in Arusha, Tanzania for the 18th Sectoral council of ministers. The June 18-21, 2013 meeting will be held through the sessions of senior officials; the co-ordination committee (Permanent Secretaries); and the ministerial session. The four-day meeting is expected to critically consider a report on the implementation of previous decision of the sectoral council of ministers responsible for EAC affairs and planning, a progress report on the status of implementation of the EAC Common Market, and a report of the 1st EAC Secretary General’s Forum among others.
World Bank gives Sh13bn to boost water supply in Kenya
The Kenyan water sector has received a major boost with the injection of Sh13 billion to set up infrastructure by the World Bank. The World Bank’s board of executive directors on Wednesday approved a $155 million (Sh13 billion) loan to support the government’s efforts to set up new water infrastructure, which will include construction of storage facilities and training in institutions. The money support is also exported to irrigation projects in various areas with an aim of boosting food security in the Kenya.
Reprieve as Treasury scraps VAT on food
The national treasury has removed the controversial clause in the VAT Bill calling for a 16% tax on foodstuffs, fertiliser and medicines in a move seen as ceding ground following mounting opposition to the Bill. The Economic Secretary Geoffrey Mwau said the Exchequer is reviewing options of protecting the poor, including scraping the proposed taxes on basic items such as food, medicines, fertiliser and agricultural inputs.
Small-scale farmers prospects as they adopt new and cheap greenhouses
US professor has come up with 12 greenhouse models meant to boost food production among smallholder growers using locally available materials in an effort to fight food insecurity in the country and see that small-scale farmers boost production by using modern technology. The greenhouses are suitable for any crop. According to Prof Khanjan Mehta, his aim was to empower smallholder farmers in Kenya who are interested in greenhouse farming to achieve their goals.
Farmer taps technology to grow crops in water
A farmer in Kikuyu is exploiting the use of new technology to grow crops using mineral nutrient solutions in water and without soil, a process called Hydroponics. Although hydroponics relies primarily on water, the system is efficient in managing the resource. Studies have indicated that hydroponics systems are at least 10 times more efficient in water usage in comparison to field farming. Since he started installing the hydroponics systems last year, Mr Chege says he has built 60 sheds around the country. Although most of the interest has been from cattle farmers looking for a cheap alternative to commercial feed, he says that demand for the systems to grow vegetables has been on the rise
Late fertilizer supplies to hurt maize harvests
This season’s maize harvest may be poorer than the last year following delays in supplying subsidized fertilizer to farmers in the North Rift. This is the warning that the farmers in the North rift are now sending amid further days. The fertilizer, currently offered by retailers is unaffordable to most farmers, rendering agriculture unprofitable considering the huge investment of capital for the crop in anticipation of better returns.
Kenya shilling sheds its value over proposed tax on capital gain
The planned reintroduction of the Capital Gains Tax has seen both the shilling and the stock market weaken in the last one week even as confusion on whether the tax will apply on the trading of shares persists. In his Budget Statement delivered last week, the Treasury Secretary, Mr Henry Rotich, said the government will re-introduce the Capital Gains Tax, which was suspended in 1980, to raise more cash to fund rising public expenditure. Since then, the shilling has weakened by nearly 1 percentage point with the stock market declining by 5 percentage points.
Government says it will not bail out NCPB in Sh550m row
The Kenyan government has made it clear that it has no intention to pay a court award to a supplier, which has seen the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) bank accounts frozen. Agriculture Permanent Secretary, Romano Kiome, told Parliament’s Public Investment Committee (PIC) that the Sh550 million award to Erad Suppliers and General Contractors was fraudulent.
Top NCPB officials’ role in Sh561M Board’s Scandal
The National Cereals and Produce Board is in the verge of collapse as the Erad General Suppliers and Contractors, a firm it contracted in August 2004 to supply maize on an emergency basis now gets green light to recover their money from NCPB. The lawyers in the case have advised NCPB to have its trustees pay off Erad so the board does not collapse entirely.
Kenya’s President Cargo order signals single EAC customs body
Following Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta’s order that all the government departments involved in the running of the port of Mombasa streamline and synergize their operations in order to enhance efficiency, the traders are optimistic that the move will achieve the intended efficiency along the Northern Corridor. The government was quick to add that the implementing the ten-point plan would entail high costs in relocating staff and other logistics.
Plans under way to modernize key weighbridges
The government of Kenya plans to automate its weighbridges to deal with the hitches persistently contributing to high costs of transportation. The transport and Infrastructure secretary, Michael Kamau has said they have a consignment of modern equipment imported from South Africa which is expected by next week. He said priority would be given to the Mariakani Bridge, which is notorious for congestion. Two others will also be modernized in a bid to reduce perennial congestion at the port of Mombasa and ease movement of cargo through the Northern Corridor to the East African countries.
Anchor Flour Millers launch fortified maize flour
A Nyeri-based maize flour miller has launched fortified products in the market, in line with a government policy aimed at increasing the nutritional value of processed foods. Anchor Flour Millers Limited Company is fortifying its flour with vitamins and minerals. The company’s managing director Peter Muthee said the products are fortified at its plant which can mill 200 tonnes of maize a day.
Nakuru agricultural show goes high-tech to curb fraud
Nakuru agricultural society officials have adopted a new electronic system to register participants in a bid to tame ticketing fraud. The new system will ensure tickets are not recycled, denying the agricultural fair revenue needed to smoothly run its activities. Through e-ticketing, the participants in its annual exhibitions and the public will be provided with an electronic card that will record all transactions.
Households hardest hit by taxes
The government’s move to impose several taxes to fund the national Budget has hit families that are already grappling with the high cost of living hardest. Speaking in a post-Budget breakfast discussion, the Central Bank Deputy Governor, Mr Louis Kasekende, said that as a result of the numerous taxes proposed in the recently read Budget, households will eventually be the biggest losers. According to Mr Kasekende, the previous financial year (2012/2013) alone recorded nearly 1.5 per cent contraction in household consumptions.
Women MPs demand more funds for health and agriculture
Women legislators are lobbying the government to prioritise funding to the agriculture and health sectors. The MPs say the key sectors play a critical role but were underfunded in the next financial year’s Budget read out last week underpinning the fact that the agricultural sector employs about 66% of Uganda’s total labor force and the vast majority of the population directly and indirectly.
Yaya Group Limited Sh1.7b grain plant to spur farming
Grain farmers in Masindi, Hoima, Kiboga and Kiryandongo districts are set to benefit from the construction of a Sh1.7 billion maize milling plant in the region. The mill is expected to benefit farmers through training in better farming practices like pre and post-harvest handling of grains and providing competitive prices that will improve household incomes. Communities involved in animal farming will also benefit from agricultural training on animal and poultry rearing in partnership with the district agricultural and veterinary offices.
Grain Council of Uganda wants policy
Dealers in the grain agro-businesses sub-sector are formulating a national grain policy to guide the management of the industry from the farm to marketing level. The policy will help farmers to negotiate for better input prices and enhance farmers’ bargaining power. Ugandan farmers have been urged to move away from the traditional norm of allowing only not-for profit organizations to run the show but involve the private sector to enable them identify where the profits in agriculture are embedded.
Government puts crop agents on notice
The government has pledged to take measures against all agents reportedly exploiting farmers in the country by violating standard measurements when purchasing crops. This comes amid farmers’ outcry against unscrupulous business persons reportedly forcing farmers to overload sacks of crops they purchase. The deputy minister for Industry and Trade, Mr Gregory Teu, told the Parliament yesterday that the government has imposed a Sh100-million fine for businessmen who will be found violating the law for the first time and Sh200 million and a seven-year prison sentence when they do it for the second time.
Tanzanian Opposition roots for Sh20tr budget
The Opposition yesterday revealed how the government can raise its budget to over Sh20 trillion without imposing burdensome taxes on the poor. Proposals in the alternative budget include not taking commercial loans as well as prudence in expenditure.
Farming in grave peril
Speaking during the occasion to launch the Zantel SMS services for providing agricultural education services, Dr Msolla said the SMS services for educating farmers on various problems affecting them. He reiterated the need to fill the gap on provision of extension services. Tanzania has just about 35% of its required extension officers, a situation that negatively impacts on the growth of the agricultural sector.
Truck owners object to new insurance fees
The stakeholders in transport including Tanzania Truck Owners Association (TATOA) have objected to the new insurance rates, arguing that being foreign influenced, they will have a great impact on the sector and result into hiked food prices.
Higher fuel tax will spark off inflation
The proposal to raise fuel taxes has been objected by stakeholders in the transport sector. The proposed changes in fuel taxes and levies will increase the prices of diesel by 115/- and petrol by 174/-, and as a result the hiked prices will force an increase in the transport costs.