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Kenyans reduce mobile calls as charges increase

A man making a phone call.
A man making a phone call. Domestic mobile voice traffic fell substantially in the quarter to March as more Kenyans cut use on increased excise duty charges from 15 per cent to 20 per cent.
Domestic mobile voice traffic fell substantially in the quarter to March as more Kenyans cut use on increased excise duty charges from 15 per cent to 20 per cent.
Fresh data by the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) shows that domestic mobile voice traffic, both on-net, and off-net, fell between January 1 and March 31 by 7.7 per cent and 1.4 per cent, respectively.
Various promotions
“This is mainly attributed to the conclusion of promotions that were running during the previous quarter,” the regulator said.
“Similarly, mobile to fixed traffic continued to dwindle owing to the declining number of fixed network subscriptions.”
In the quarter to March, mobile users spent 1.6 minutes on on-net calls and a minute on off net calls on average. This was a drop compared to the previous quarter when they spent 1.7 minutes on on-net calls and 1.2 minutes on off-net calls, partly buoyed by promotional rates by telcos.
Calling rates have become punitive for many mobile phone users in Kenya since last year after the State imposed a higher tax through the Finance Act, 2020, in a bid to collect at least Sh8 billion in extra revenues from Safaricom, Airtel, and Telkom Kenya.
The charge was passed on to consumers, with Airtel increasing the cost of making calls to Sh2.78 per minute and Safaricom to Sh4.87 per minute for peak time from Sh4.30.
The impact of the reviewed call and data costs has hit consumers with many of them reducing the length of time spent talking on their phones.
This has also hit collections from levies imposed on mobile services. Data by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) showed that airtime and call data tax collections fell by 19.8 per cent or Sh7.4 billion last year due to reduced use following increased excise duty.
SIM registration
The taxman collected Sh29.8 billion last year—a drop from Sh37.2 billion in 2020, KNBS said.
The CA data further showed that as of March 31, the number of active mobile (SIM) subscriptions stood at 64.9 million from 65.1 million subscriptions recorded by the end of December 2021, representing a mobile penetration rate of 131.4 per cent.
“The decline in SIM subscriptions is partly attributed to the ongoing SIM registration exercise during which a number of SIM cards have been deactivated,” the regulator said. – nation.africa.

Europe’s airport baggage chaos hits KQ operations

A Kenya Airways plane.
The effects of baggage processing hitches in main European airports have hit Kenya Airways operations, leaving hundreds of its passengers highly inconvenienced by delays in transfers of their checked-in belongings including bags and suitcases.
There have been significant baggage system failures at London’s main Heathrow airport since last weekend. The hitch has been blamed for a huge pile-up of luggage at the airport’s Terminal 2 since last Friday.
Some passengers complained of two-hour waits at baggage reclaim their luggage London gateway facility, while others were left without luggage at all and had to fly without their bags.
Flights from Schiphol, Amsterdam, and other European airports are also facing a challenge with processing bags due to a shortage of workers.
This chaos has affected Kenya Airways and other airlines servicing key routes in Europe amid piling frustrations by thousands of travellers.
“This has affected the processing of baggage in time to reach flights before they depart and unfortunately several customers’ bags have been delayed. It has also affected most airlines and the baggage transfers from other airlines to Kenya Airways,” said KQ chief commercial and customer officer Julius Thairu.
“We are working with all affected airports and doing everything we can to ensure that customers’ bags are put onto the first available flights. Once the baggage arrives at the destination airport, our team will arrange delivery with a courier service to the addresses provided.”
Mr Thairu said the airline would assist passengers affected by the chaos to purchase essential items until their baggage is delivered.
UK airports have been hit by a series of travel disruptions since the onset of the peak summer travel season amid a heavy shortage of workers, leading to the cancellation of hundreds of flights. Critics said the UK travel industry failed to plan for the upsurge in passenger traffic after two years of disruption during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Some analysts have linked the chaos to Brexit, saying it has led to a lack of EU workers in the UK, although the UK government had downplayed the claims.
Some airlines in Britain such as TUI and EasyJet have even taken drastic steps and cancelled dozens of flights a week to improve customer service and reliability on remaining routes. EasyJet has even removed some aircraft seats to cut crew sizes.
But the airport chaos is not just in the UK alone. Scenes of chaos have been witnessed at some European airports such as Dublin, Ireland, and Schiphol, Amsterdam over the last week as people have started to venture abroad, sparked by a shortage of bag handlers, security, and airline staff that led to huge queues, missed flights and furious customers. – nation.africa.

DEATH ANNOUNCEMENT OF LATE HENRY JOHN WARNER IN UK

It is with our deepest sorrow and heartfelt regret to inform you of the sudden demise, of our beloved dad, Henry John Warner (Ian). He passed away late hours of Sunday 19th June 2022, after a short illness.

He was a loving husband to the late Rachel Wakiiya Warner (Cucu wa Kiongo, Eltham) and a wonderful father to 10 children: Karen Wambui (Glasgow), Alice Wanjiru, Margaret Wajine (Kenya), Janet, Duncan Karanja, Julie Njoki (Kenya) ), Douglas Kiongo, Catherine Njambi, Pamela and Donald Warner.

He leaves behind many grandchildren and great grandchildren who cherished every moment spent with their Guka.

His funeral will be head on: FRIDAY 15TH JULY 2022 at
St. Saviour’s Church
98 Middle Park Avenue
Eltham, London SE9 5JH
Time: 11:30 a.m.

For financial support:
BARCLAYS BANK
A W GAMANGA
SORT CODE: 20-98-57
ACCOUNT NO: 53773256
Kindly use “YOUR NAME” as reference.

M-PESA
ERIC WAMBUGU WANJINE
+254713102603

The Warner family would like to thank you for keeping them in your thoughts and prayers through this difficult time.

Isaiah 57:2 NIV: Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death.

For further information please contact:
Douglas Kiongo +44 7949421288
Janet Warner +44 7903596698
Peter Kinyanjui +44 7376928464
Anthony Warner +44 7469941580.

Congress passes most significant gun reform bill in decades

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) delivers remarks as she joins fellow Democrats for a rally before voting on the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act in outside the U.S. Capitol on June 24, 2022 in Washington, DC.
Scrambling to respond to a recent spate of bloody gun massacres, U.S. lawmakers passed the most significant federal gun restrictions in decades on Friday, following years of false starts and failures to tighten gun laws.
Following Senate passage late Thursday, the House passed the bipartisan bill that takes steps to restrict gun access for the youngest buyers, domestic violence offenders and others who could pose a risk to their communities. The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act also would fund school safety and mental health programs.
The House approved it by a 234-193 margin, as 14 Republicans joined all Democrats. The legislation heads to President Joe Biden, who is expected to quickly sign it into law.
Democrats hoped the legislation would further rein in gun violence after lone gunmen massacred Black shoppers at a Buffalo grocery store and children at a Texas elementary school last month. The victory for gun-safety advocates this week also came with a setback, as the Supreme Court struck down a New York law that restricted the ability to carry a concealed weapon. The ruling imperils similar laws around the country.
Democrats nonetheless cheered the legislation’s passage as a landmark event after they won support from Republicans including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Kentucky Republican who has long fought efforts to restrict gun ownership after previous mass shootings that rocked the country.
“Tonight, after 28 years of inaction, bipartisan members of Congress came together to heed the call of families across the country and passed legislation to address the scourge of gun violence in our communities,” Biden said in a statement Thursday night after the Senate approved the bill. “Families in Uvalde and Buffalo — and too many tragic shootings before — have demanded action. And tonight, we acted.”
The bill passed Friday would enhance background checks for 18- to 21-year-old gun buyers. The ease of access to firearms for young adults came under increased scrutiny after 18-year-olds armed with assault-style rifles carried out both the Buffalo and Uvalde, Texas shootings. Democrats hoped to ban those types of weapons for people under 21.
The legislation also aims to close the so-called boyfriend loophole and restrict gun ownership for domestic violence offenders who are not married to their partners. It would also set up grants for states to encourage red-flag laws, which allow police or relatives and acquaintances to petition courts to order the removal of a gun if the individual is deemed dangerous.
It would also fund school safety and youth mental health programs. Republican gun-rights supporters have argued those issues, rather than the prevalence of firearms, have fueled the U.S. gun violence epidemic. Democrats have also long lamented the underfunding of mental-health programs.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the California Democrat who led passage of a far more sweeping gun bill this month, acted quickly to pass the legislation despite her concerns about its scope.
“Every day, gun violence steals lives and scars communities — and this crisis demands urgent action,” she said in a statement Thursday. “While we must do more, the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act is a step forward that will help protect our children and save lives.”
Supporters of gun control hold signs in front of supporters of gun rights during a demonstration by victims of gun violence in front of the Supreme Court as arguments begin in a major case on gun rights on November 3, 2021 in Washington, DC.
The original proposal would have banned assault-style rifles for people under 21 and barred certain high-capacity magazines, among other steps. It had little chance of getting through the Senate, where Democrats have to win over 10 Republicans to garner the 60 votes needed to break a legislative filibuster, and was ultimately scaled back.
Talks led by Sens. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and John Cornyn, R-Texas, ultimately led to a breakthrough. Murphy, who represented Newtown, Conn., in the U.S. House during the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre in 2012, has long pushed for new gun restrictions.
Fifteen Republicans including McConnell voted for the bill in the Senate. The Republican Senate leader on Thursday framed the legislation as a middle ground between protecting schools and ensuring gun ownership rights.
“The legislation before us would make our communities and schools safer without laying one finger on the Second Amendment for law-abiding citizens. Its key provisions are hugely popular with the American people,” he said. – cnbc.com

KRA staff to wear cameras in war against kickbacks

Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) Commissioner-General Githii Mburu
The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) workers will start wearing body-worn cameras in the latest bid to curb tax cheating and crack down on staff bribery that abets duty evasion.
The cameras, popularly known as bodycams, will be used mainly by staff who work in the domestic tax department and customs and border control in the latest effort by authorities to fight corruption.
Some KRA staff have been accused of helping to fraudulently clear cargo and alter tax returns to help people dodge duty payments.
This has seen the workers amass multimillion-shilling assets including real estate and posh cars that are not consistent with their pay.
The use of bodycams, commonly used by US law enforcement officers, are being introduced as Kenya seeks to reduce its appetite for debt in favour of funding the bulk of its budget from taxes.
“Very soon we will also be ensuring our enforcement officers have body-worn cameras, like the ones you see in the US, so that any action they take is recorded and we can see it. When you put it off, we will also have to understand why you do it,” KRA Commissioner General Githii Mburu told the Business Daily in an interview.
“This is so that as you engage out there, you do not get involved in activities that will compromise our objectives. We have to employ risk management where our risks are highest, so they will be more for our officers at border points where things are moving in and out and all our custom areas.”
The use of cameras will start in high-value locations like the border points, Mombasa port, the Inland Container Depot and Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).
The integrity of the KRA workers has come into focus in the recent past as a biting cash crisis hit the government.
The authority has battled tax-related misconduct such as theft, cheating in the declaration of return, corruption, collusion and soliciting bribes from tax cheats.
It has previously vetted staff for misconduct and subjected the workers to lifestyle audits in efforts to stop rampant corruption in the agency that costs the State billions of shillings in revenue leakages.
In 2019, KRA interdicted tens of workers for abetting tax evasion after being under covert watch for four months involving trailing their money and communication, commonly referred to as wiretapping.
Last month, Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) asked the High Court to compel a former KRA supervisor to forfeit property worth Sh278 million to the State, saying he acquired them through bribes.
The anti-graft agency told the court that Jeremiah Kamau Kinyua, who left KRA in March 2021, used his corrupt dealings to amass the property in a seven-year period when his net salary was Sh11.6 million.
The tax agency, through its enhanced tax collection and recovery efforts, anticipates that it will exceed its revenue collection target by Sh140 billion in the current fiscal year, eyeing Sh2 trillion in total collections for the period.
Mr Mburu says KRA is also looking to improve surveillance on premises producing excisable products such as alcoholic drinks by accessing real-time CCTV feed from factory floors to monitor the movement of products.
In order to fight excise evasion by alcohol manufacturers, the agency is also planning to install sensors in storage tanks to monitor the usage of raw materials, which will inform the volume of finished products.
The agency estimates that it loses Sh12 billion every year from excise tax evasion alone, and is using data and intelligence surveillance to catch tax cheats.
KRA is also set to intensify its crackdown on wealthy tax evaders, setting the stage for travel bans, asset freeze and deactivation of Personal Identification Numbers (PINs).
The clampdown is revealed in a commitment that Kenya made to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to recover unpaid taxes from high-net-worth professionals and traders in efforts to raise national revenues.
KRA detectives have identified firms and wealthy individuals that owe it hundreds of billions of shillings.
Tax cheats
Rich self-employed professionals like doctors, real estate investors, and lawyers as well as wealthy individuals will be in the crosshairs of the taxman.
The tax cheats risk travel bans, collection of duty directly from their suppliers and bankers, and prosecution in what promises to be the biggest crackdown yet on high net-worth persons.
The KRA is racing to bring more people into the tax brackets and curb tax cheating and evasion in the quest to meet targets.
The KRA enforcement unit has been using various databases to pursue suspected tax cheats, among them bank statements, import records, motor vehicle registration details, Kenya Power records, water bills and data from the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCCA), which reveal individuals who own assets such as helicopters.
Car registration details are also being used to smoke out individuals who are driving high-end vehicles but have little to show in terms of taxes remitted.
The Kenya Power meter registrations are helping the taxman to identify landlords, some of whom have been slapped with huge tax demands. – businessdailyafrica.com

Estonia says Russia has violated its airspace for first time by helicopter

A Russian Mi-8 military helicopter is seen during flight testing in the Rostov region, Russia, in January
Estonia has accused Russia of violating its airspace for the first time by helicopter, in a highly provocative move ahead of a major NATO summit.
The Baltic state, a member of the NATO alliance, also said ongoing Russian military exercises are simulating missile strikes against its country daily.
“This is the picture of the threat. How we see the Russian threat… It has never been as serious as it is now,” said Kusti Salm, the top civil servant at the Estonian defence ministry, speaking to journalists on Tuesday.
The hostile activity emerged as Russia is locked in a heated exchange with Lithuania, another Baltic state and fierce critic of Vladimir Putin’s regime, over a decision by Vilnius to block the transit by rail of certain sanctioned goods to the Russian territory of Kaliningrad.
It also came just days before the heads of state and government of the 30-strong NATO alliance meet for a landmark summit in Madrid, where they are set to present plans for a fundamental reshaping of their defences in the wake of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Estonia said it has summoned the Russian ambassador to Tallinn to protest at the flight path of the MI-8 border guard helicopter, which it said entered Estonian airspace for two minutes without permission on Saturday evening.
The incident took place in the southern Koidula area, not far from the Russian city of Pskov, according to a statement from Estonia’s military.
Mr Salm said there had been “multiple border violations by helicopters” from Russia over the past week.
He said one helicopter had crossed the border, while another flew very close. He described these helicopter incidents as having happened “several times in the region”.
The senior Estonian civil servant said: “Getting over the border with a helicopter cannot be a mistake – there have been multiple examples in recent days.
“Beside the border actions, there have been provocative actions flying very near the vicinity of the border in the last days.”
Russia is also conducting military exercises that include simulating missile strikes on its Baltic neighbour.
“It is real life. They are actually simulating missiles attacks against NATO territory and letting us know that they are doing this,” Mr Salm said. – skynews

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193 cars among goods to be auctioned on Tuesday in Mombasa

Second hand cars being offloaded from a Cargo Ship at the Port of Mombasa.
The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) will on Tuesday auction 193 cars at the Mombasa port alongside other items as it seeks to recover millions in taxes.
This follows the expiry of a notice issued last month, where the taxman said it will auction the goods in 322 lots, which have overstayed in different custom warehouses in the port city after owners failed to pay taxes and other requisite duties.
The exercise is also expected to decongest the port and its warehouses.
“Goods will be auctioned pursuant to provisions of section 42 of the East African Community Customs Management Act, notice is given that unless the undermentioned goods are entered and removed from the custody of the Customs Warehouse Keeper, Kilindini, within thirty (30) days of this notice,” read part of the gazette notice dated May 20, 2022.
The KRA intends to recover millions of shillings from the exercise where interested buyers are requested to view the goods in the 16 different warehouses where the goods were stored.
This will be the last main customs auction at the port this financial year 2021/2022 as the number of goods remaining uncollected at the port continue to increase due to the high cost of taxes charged.
Those to be auctioned this week include 193 cars and canters, used clothes and household goods, 48 forty-feet containers containing sewing machine centre beams, tea processing plant with accessories, pipes, and pipe fittings among other goods.
Consolidated cargo is the majority of lots slated for auction, which are linked to small traders who import using proxies posing as clearing agents and either swindle them or take long before paying the requisite fees to clear cargo.
“I found my goods listed in the auction gazette notice because I did not pay demurrages and clearing taxes since my business collapsed during Covid-19. My two canters and a container of used clothes are some of my goods being auctioned but I hope I will clear with KRA before the exercise begins,” said John Mwaliko, a Mombasa businessman.
Many traders importing cargo through the Mombasa port are facing economic difficulties and have failed to clear cargo on time.
Importers have urged the government to consider giving them more time to clear the goods or offer them special rates during the pandemic period. The KRA auctions goods that have overstayed at warehouses after owners fail to pay taxes or those that have been misdeclared.
But before each auction, the commissioner for customs and border control publishes a notice in the Kenya Gazette. If the goods are not removed within 30 days from the date of the notice, they are assumed to have been abandoned.
Reserve prices are determined by several elements, including customs duty, removal and sale expenses, and port and freight charges. Goods cannot be offered at prices below the reserve price. – businessdailyafrica.com

Germany plans to fire up coal plants as Russia throttles gas supplies

Germany has said the deteriorating gas market situation means Europe’s largest economy must limit the use of natural gas for electricity production and burn more coal for a “transitional period.”
Economy Minister Robert Habeck on Sunday warned that the situation is going to be “really tight in winter” without precautionary measures to prevent a supply shortage.
As a result, Germany will seek to compensate for a cut in Russian gas supplies by increasing the burning of coal — the most carbon-intensive fossil fuel in terms of emissions and therefore the most important target for replacement in the transition toward renewable alternatives.
“That’s bitter, but it’s almost necessary in this situation to reduce gas consumption. We must and we will do everything we can to store as much gas as possible in summer and autumn,” the Green Party’s Habeck said in a statement, according to a translation.
“The gas storage tanks must be full in winter. That has top priority,” he added.
That comes shortly after an ominous warning from Russia’s state-backed energy giant Gazprom exacerbated fears of a full supply disruption to the European Union.
Gazprom said last week that it had further limited supplies via the Nord Stream 1 pipeline that runs from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea.
Gazprom cited a technical problem for the supply cut, saying the issue stemmed from the delayed return of equipment serviced by Germany’s Siemens Energy in Canada.
Habeck has rejected that claim, saying the move was politically motivated and designed to unsettle the region and ramp up gas prices.
It’s not yet known when or if Nord Stream 1 gas flows will return to normal levels.
‘Our product, our rules’
In fiery comments likely to have sent alarm bells ringing throughout European capitals, Gazprom CEO Alexei Miller said Thursday that Russia will play by its own rules after the firm halved supplies to Germany.
“Our product, our rules. We don’t play by rules we didn’t create,” Miller said during a panel session at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, according to The Moscow Times.
Italy, Austria and Slovakia have also reported supply reductions from Russia.
Policymakers in Europe are currently scrambling to fill underground storage with natural gas supplies to provide households with enough fuel to keep the lights on and homes warm before the cold returns.
The EU, which receives roughly 40% of its gas via Russian pipeline, is trying to rapidly reduce its reliance on Russian hydrocarbons in response to the Kremlin’s months-long onslaught in Ukraine.
“The tense situation and high prices are a direct consequence of Putin’s war of aggression against Ukraine. There is no mistake. What’s more, it’s obviously Putin’s strategy to unsettle us, drive up prices and divide us. We won’t allow that. We defend ourselves resolutely, precisely and thoughtfully,” Habeck said.
Germany’s storage facilities are currently at around 56% capacity, above the storage levels in the same period last year, Habeck said.
“The missing quantities can still be replaced, and the gas storage tanks are still being filled, albeit at high prices. Security of supply is currently guaranteed but the situation is serious,” he added. – cnbc.com