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US links loss of Kenya State tenders to graft

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US links loss of Kenya State tenders to graft


President Uhuru Kenyatta

President Uhuru Kenyatta addresses the nation from State House, Nairobi on March 12, 2021.

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Summary

  • The US has decried graft in government tenders in Kenya, saying it locked out qualified American firms from undertaking projects in the country.
  • The US Trade Representative’s office (USTR) claimed that some rogue public officials in Kenya manipulated tender bids to suit their interests and those of their cronies.

The US has decried graft in government tenders in Kenya, saying it locked out qualified American firms from undertaking projects in the country.

The US Trade Representative’s office (USTR) claimed that some rogue public officials in Kenya manipulated tender bids to suit their interests and those of their cronies.

“US firms have had limited success bidding on government tenders in Kenya. There are widespread reports that corruption often influences the outcome of public tenders, and many of these tenders are challenged in the courts,” it said.

“Foreign firms, some without proven track records, have won government contracts when partnered with well-connected Kenyan firms,” the agency responsible for developing and promoting American trade policy added.

The US is keen on transparency in public procurement in Kenya ahead of a new free trade deal between these countries.

The graft claims by the US are likely to shine more spotlight on Kenya procurement systems which have long been linked to brazen manipulation by some State officials.

Rattled by outcry over fraud in public tenders, Kenya in January 2019 opted to migrate all public tenders and procurement transactions to the Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS), an electronic tool.

The IFMIS became the technology through which government runs national finances, from planning through budgeting to procurement, payment, accounting and reporting. It helps in reporting by the Controller of Budget (CoB) on how and on what tax resources are spent nationally and in the counties. It forms one input into the Auditor-General’s own annual review and audit of these accounts.

The USTR, however, said that since the IFMIS was launched in 2014, there have been complaints about insufficient connectivity and technical capacity in county governments, apathy from county officials, and central control shutdowns.

“Moreover, IFMIS has security gaps that make it vulnerable to manipulation, including the duplication of authorised users’ identities and non-users’ ability to remotely access IFMIS,” it said. “Corruption is widely reported to affect government procurement tender processes at both the national and county levels. The Government has not implemented anticorruption laws effectively,” the agency added. Transparency in reporting of public tenders remains problematic amid resistance by some State agencies and departments to disclose information.

Mid-2018, Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua asked accounting officers in ministries, departments and agencies to consolidate and publish tender information on a special website on the 15th of every month.

The information on the portal should include the basis of awarding the tenders, parameters of assessment, names and details of tender committee members as well as the value of each contract.

A recent report by the Public Procurement Regulatory Authority (PPRA) – the official procurement watchdog – however shows that most State agencies continued to ignore the directive during the 2019/2020 financial year where tenders worth Sh232.77 billion were published on online portal.

“The authority has continued to monitor implementation of these directives through preparation of reports to Parliament and the National Treasury and Planning… Despite these, the level of compliance has continued to be poor,” the PPRA said, noting that as at June 30, 2020, only 433 procuring entities had been registered on the portal.

The report shows that about 43.47 percent of the ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) had not complied with the executive order by the end of the last financial year.

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KQ resumes Mumbai flights after 4 months

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KQ resumes Mumbai flights after 4 months


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A Kenya Airways aircraft at JKIA. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Kenya Airways will on Thursday resume flights to Mumbai, ending a four-month hiatus that was occasioned by increased cases of Covid-19 in the Asian state.
  • The airline in a notice to its customers yesterday said it will resume its operations on the route on September 16, 2021 with the first flight departing Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 7am to arrive in Mumbai at 3:45 pm.

Kenya Airways #ticker:KQ will on Thursday resume flights to Mumbai, ending a four-month hiatus that was occasioned by increased cases of Covid-19 in the Asian state.

The airline in a notice to its customers Monday said it will resume its operations on the route on September 16, 2021 with the first flight departing Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 7am to arrive in Mumbai at 3:45 pm.

The airline will then resume full operations on the route on September 20, flying three times per week on the Indian route, which is one of the most lucrative destinations on its network.

Passengers on the route will part with Sh46,000 ($419) for one-way air ticket on economy class seats from Nairobi to Mumbai- prices that are relatively the same compared to what it was charging before the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Welcome back onboard! Fly from Nairobi to Mumbai starting Thursday 16th September with normal schedules resuming from Monday 20th September 2021,” said the airline in a notice to its customers yesterday.

KQ Suspended passenger flights to and from Mumbai on April 30 until further notice, following a government directive on travel between India and Kenya due to a Covid-19 crisis in that country.

The airline said on Friday that passengers who had booked tickets after May 1, the date of the last flight from Mumbai to Nairobi, will have to change their plans.

Affected passengers, KQ said, could also take vouchers for the value of their fare for future travel within 12 months.

India has seen soaring infection rates in the recent days, since the discovery of a new virus variant. Last month, India put on lockdown one of the states following a spike in cases of Covid-19.

Other countries that have banned flights to India include France, the UK Bangladesh, Oman and Hong Kong that have banned travel to and from India or asked their nationals coming from the Asian country to isolate themselves in government-approved hotels.

India has so far detected 33,264,175 corona virus cases with the number of deaths hitting 442,874 as at September 13.

A large number of patients from Kenya also travel to India every year for specialised medical treatment, especially cancer care, helping to drive medical tourism in the densely populated country that boasts affordable and easily accessible healthcare.

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Lower import volumes push mitumba prices to new highs

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Lower import volumes push mitumba prices to new highs


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Man pulls a cart loaded with second-hand clothes at Gikomba Market in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Traders paid Sh100,527 on average per tonne of the used clothes, popularly called mitumba, compared to Sh96,286 the previous year.
  • Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) banned importation of the clothes from late March through mid-August in a bid to contain the spread of the life-threatening coronavirus infections.
  • Findings of the Economic Survey 2021 suggests dealers shipped in 121,778 tonnes of mitumba in 2020, a 34.02 percent fall compared with 2019 and the lowest volumes since 2015.

The average price of a tonne of second-hand clothing items imported into the country crossed the Sh100,000 mark for the first time last year on reduced volumes in the wake of safety protocols and guidelines to curb spread of coronavirus.

Traders paid Sh100,527 on average per tonne of the used clothes, popularly called mitumba, compared to Sh96,286 the previous year.

Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) banned importation of the clothes from late March through mid-August in a bid to contain the spread of the life-threatening coronavirus infections.

Findings of the Economic Survey 2021 suggests dealers shipped in 121,778 tonnes of mitumba in 2020, a 34.02 percent fall compared with 2019 and the lowest volumes since 2015.

Last year’s drop was the first dip since 2011 when 76,533 tonnes were shipped in compared with 80,423 tonnes the previous year, the official data collated by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows.

The import bill for the merchandise amounted to Sh12.24 billion, a drop of 31.11 percent, or Sh5.53 billion, year-on-year.

TIn imposing the temporary ban on used clothes, Kebs had applied a standard which prohibits buying second-hand clothes from countries experiencing epidemics to ensure disease-causing microorganisms are not imported into Kenya.

Higher quality and relatively lower prices for mitumba has continued to drive demand for used clothes at expense of locally-made products amid higher margins enjoyed by traders largely operating in informal markets.

The lucrative second-hand clothing market has seen traders from China —a key source market for the merchandise —open shops in Gikomba, Kenya’s largest informal market for mitumba, in recent years to cash in rising demand.

Earnings from exports of articles of apparel and clothing accessories fell 5.32 percent to Sh32.92 billion last year compared with 2019, data indicates.

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Court backs Atwoli union in horticulture membership feud

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Court backs Atwoli union in horticulture membership feud


Cotu boss Francis Atwoli

Cotu boss Francis Atwoli. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Summary

  • A trade union that is led by the long-serving Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) boss Francis Atwoli has survived an attempt to stop it from representing over 60,000 workers in the horticulture industry.
  • Newly registered Kenya Export, Floriculture, Horticulture, and Allied Workers Union (Kefhau) had filed as a case in the Employment and Labour seeking to bar the Atwoli-led Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU) from representing workers in the industry.

A trade union that is led by the long-serving Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) boss Francis Atwoli has survived an attempt to stop it from representing over 60,000 workers in the horticulture industry.

Newly registered Kenya Export, Floriculture, Horticulture, and Allied Workers Union (Kefhau) had filed as a case in the Employment and Labour seeking to bar the Atwoli-led Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU) from representing workers in the industry.

Mr Atwoli is the secretary-general of KPAWU. The rival union claimed KPAWU had encroached on its area of workers’ representation.

Justice James Rika, however, dismissed the claim and ruled that the dispute should have been taken through conciliation, and was therefore presented in court prematurely.

He also stated that Kefhau must go beyond its registration and recruit sufficient members from the employers, to be granted recognition and organisational rights.

“Registration on its own, does not afford the claimant (Kefhau) recognition. Until there is proof that Kefhau has satisfied Section 54 of the Labour Relations Act, the status quo must be maintained,” said the judge.

“Kefhau must recruit at least 50 percent plus one, of the unionisable employees in the floriculture and horticulture industry, members of the Agricultural Employers Association to be considered for recognition,” he stated.

He noted that there is a Recognition Agreement and CBA, binding Mr Atwoli’s union and Agricultural Employers Association, affecting 73 Flower Growers Group of employers, and over 60,000 employees.

“It is objectionable for Kefhau to be allowed organisational rights, and the legitimacy to receive trade union dues and agency fees, from over 60,000 employees, just on the strength of registration as a trade union,” said the judge.

Kefhau wanted the court to declare that it is the sole trade union, which is allowed by its constitution to carry out activities in the export floriculture and vegetable industry, and an order restraining Mr Atwoli’s from representing workers in that area.

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