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Monday, January 8th, 2018

 

Kenyan coffee ranks among the world’s top beans

By JAMES NGUNJIRI
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Three Kenyan factories have been ranked among the world’s best specialty coffee producers for 2017, putting farmers on the path to better earnings.

Kabare AA, produced by the Kabare farmers’ cooperative society in Kirinyaga was ranked fourth on Coffee Review’s list of Top 30 with a score of 97 points out of 100.

AA is the highest grade of Kenya coffee based on bean size and freedom from physical imperfections.

Riakiberu AB came in at position 20 with 95 points. The coffee was produced by Kamacharia farmers’ cooperative society in Murang’a.

And, Baragu farmers’ cooperative society in Kirinyaga was selected as the number 25 coffee of the top 30 list.

The rankings were, however, a drop compared to 2016 when seven factories were ranked among the world’s best by Coffee Review, an online publication that analyses the quality of beans globally.

According to Coffee Review, before roasting, this coffee from Baragu was kept for 65 days in barrels previously used to age bourbon whiskey.

The review team said this coffee tied for the highest rating in a cupping of aged, casked and specially cured beans for Coffee Review’s May 2017 tasting report.

The featuring of Kenyan coffee among the top in the world comes at a time when there are challenges in the sub-sector ranging from unclear government coffee policy and urban encroachment on prime coffee lands to chronically unstable weather.

The famed Kenya coffee auction system and its participating cooperatives continue to produce some of the world’s most elegant and distinctive coffees.

“Coffee Review’s goal, as always, is to celebrate coffee roasters, farmers and mill-owners who make an extra effort to produce coffees that are not only superb in quality but also distinctive in character,” said the review team.

“In particular, we want to honour the dedication of coffee producers large and small who with the support of their roaster partners are crafting a range of sensory excellence and diversity that has never existed before in the history of the beverage.”

For the past five years, Coffee Review has released its top 30 list, where the team’s editors rank the most exciting coffees from the thousands they cupped over the course of the past year.

“We selected and ranked these 30 exciting coffees and espressos based on quality (represented by overall ratings), value (reflected by most affordable price per pound), and other factors that include distinctiveness of style, uniqueness of origin or tree variety, certification and general rarity,” the review team said.

For each of the five years the coffee experts have created a top 30 list, their top pick has been a single-origin coffee.

This past year, however, saw the first time a coffee from Yemen topped the list.

In 2016, a Kenya product – Guama coffee factory, a member of Baragwi cooperative society in Kirinyaga, topped the list, and in both 2014 and 2015 coffees from Panama (both from trees of the Gesha variety) prevailed.

In 2013, the number one coffee was an exceptional Ethiopia.

Last year, six of the top 30 selections were produced from trees of the Gesha variety, which, since their rediscovery in 2004, continues to produce rare, expensive and generally stunning and original coffees.

Five of the top 30 Gesha were from farms in Panama.

Other origins with multiple coffees on the list are Colombia (3), Ethiopia (3), Kenya (3), Sumatra (2), Hawaii (2), Rwanda (2), and El Salvador (2).

“Tree variety continues to play what appears to be a crucial role in the success of many coffees on this year’s top 30 list. Six top 30 selections were produced from trees of the Gesha variety. Four more were mainly produced from the heirloom, Bourbon-related SL28 and SL34 varieties responsible for the finest coffees of Kenya; two came from trees of the rare, big-beaned Pacamara variety, and four from heirloom varieties grown only in Ethiopia,” noted Kenneth Davids, a coffee expert, author and co-founder of Coffee Review.

24 of the coffees on the top 30 list were roasted by companies in the United States, including roasters in 11 US states.

California roasters led once again in numbers, with five representatives overall. Multiple coffees from roasters in Wisconsin, Colorado and Connecticut appear on the list, along with coffees roasted by companies in Taiwan, Canada, Australia, and Rwanda.

Processing method also appeared to play a significant role in the sensory differentiation that helped qualify a coffee for the top 30, although a less important role than tree variety.


Reporting norm promises to change insurance

By JAMES NGUNJIRI
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The new insurance accounting standard – International Financial Reporting Standard (IFRS) 17, which was published on May 18, 2017, heralds fundamental changes to international insurance accounting.

The standard is expected to give users of financial statements increased comparability and transparency about the profitability of new and in-force insurance business on an international scale.

It will bring both benefits and challenges for insurers.

The effective date will be January 1, 2021, which may seem a long way off – but IFRS experts say that the implementation effort will be significant.

An audit partner and IFRS expert at KPMG Kenya Alex Mbai said the standard aims to promote uniformity in insurance accounting.

This is because under IFRS 4, current insurance contracts being replaced by IFRS 17, underwriters have been using local laws, practices and policies to report on insurance.

“The new requirements will reshape the primary statements and change the disclosures in insurers’ financial statements. There will be increased transparency about the profitability of new and in-force business, which will give users more insight into an insurer’s financial health than ever before,” said Mr Mbai.

Specifically, separate presentation of underwriting and finance results will provide added transparency about the sources of profits and quality of earnings.

Premium volumes will no longer drive the “top line” as investment components and cash received are no longer considered to be revenue, and accounting for options and guarantees will be more consistent and transparent.

Mr Mbai said underwriters will be required to produce more data than they have been keeping, and contracting with policyholders will also change.

“Significant changes to the data gathered and maintained will be needed and as a result, this could be a complex exercise for many companies,” said Mr Mbai.

“The requirements have the potential to reduce the cost of capital for leading insurers. Greater comparability could facilitate merger and acquisition activity, encourage greater competition for investment capital and help gain the trust of investors.”

Equally, there are likely to be a number of other effects. For instance, there could be greater volatility in financial results and equity due to the use of current market discount rates. Underwriters may also need to revisit the design of their products and other strategic decisions, such as investment allocation.

The new standard will provide a peek into how insurance liabilities are measured.

The insurance contract will be made up of four building blocks; the future cash inflows and outflows for the insurer to fulfill a contract, an adjustment for the time value of money for fulfilment cash flows using appropriate discount rates, a risk adjustment to the cash flows, and a contracts service margin.

The standard is also expected to curb fraud as it will bring a lot of scrutiny and uniformity in reporting, therefore people will not work in isolation.

They will share information with stakeholders and customers will be involved in premium pricing.

KPMG insurance surveys in East Africa have in the past indicated that about 25 per cent of premiums charged by insurance firms go to cover fraud risks and related costs incurred by the insurer whilst underwriting insurance risk.

The IFRS experts said Kenyan underwriters should be able to adopt the standard on time, with the right and timely preparation.

Already, Insurance Regulatory Authority (IRA) is engaging standard-setting bodies and will be advising firms on compliance to the international standards.

“The authority will require companies to implement the standard once we issue guidelines and circular later,” said IRA acting commissioner of insurance Godfrey Kiptum.

While the 2021 may seem a long way off, the timescale will still be a challenge for many and a co-ordinated response will be essential.

Finance, actuarial, IT and audit functions are expected to work closely together and underwriters need to start the implementation process now.

Insurers are being advised to start with an initial impact assessment, then move onto analysing their insurance contracts for product-by-product impacts.

Actuarial and financial services provider firm – Kenbright chief actuary and managing director Ezekiel Macharia said predicted the effect will spur mergers and acquisitions.

“Mergers are part of the solution but not the only solution.

Changes in business operation and understanding the insurer’s risk will be the likely routes insurers take. This will include hiring more analysts and actuaries to understand the business. In addition, development of IT systems which monitor the business will increase,” said Mr Macharia.

The new standard is also expected to boost insurance uptake in Kenya and close the trust deficit.

Official data from IRA shows that as at December 31, 2016, insurance penetration rate in Kenya was at 2.73 per cent which is considered low compared with the world average of 6.28 per cent.


Allow us to self-regulate, say matatus

By JAMES KARIUKI
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Matatu owners say the night bus ban is hurting the economy and called for involvement of all stakeholders in seeking a lasting solution to the runway road accidents.

Matatu Owners Association (MOA) said haphazard directives by the National Transport and Safety Agency (NTSA) and the police only serve to disrupt lives and impoverish hardworking Kenyans.

“Kenya needs a 24-hour economy to create thousands of jobs but you cannot hurt that prospect just because someone failed to do their work. The night bus travel ban must be lifted partially to 11 pm to allow buses to complete long distance journeys like from Mombasa to Eldoret,” said association chairman Simon Kimutai.

“Experts recommendations to divert the steep Kibunja-Sachangwan-Salaa-Migaa section through was made 10 years ago but why has it not been implemented despite numerous fatal accidents at the same spots all year round?” he posed.

Safeguard interests

Speaking after meeting matatu owners in Nairobi, Mr Kimutai, said NTSA and the police department must safeguard interests of the licensed matatus by revoking licences for all briefcase saccos and also imposing punitive fine for the fast rising private ‘matatus’.

“Private matatus are illegal but they are there and everyone knows it. They drive beyond 80 kilometres per hour and are now preferred by travellers. Matatus have also installed switches that disable speed governors to enable them compete effectively with the private operators,” he said.

County governments had also joined the gravy train by allocating prime spots for the private matatus further pushing the rest out of business.

“To stem this economic sabotage of our legal businesses, NTSA must deregister all briefcase saccos running genuine matatu saccos out of business. NTSA must compel all matatus to use cashless services to settle fares as this will end bribery along our roads,” he said.


Can Mumias CEO pull ailing miller out of the ward?

By CAROLINE WAFULA
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Can sugar expert Nashon Aseka bring back sweetness to sugarcane farmers’ lives and pull Mumias out of the red? That is the question on the lips of key players.

Six months after his appointment as chief executive, Mr Aseka is optimistic that he will thrive where his predecessors left with dismal impact. The only hitch, however, is that he needs Sh4 billion after which everything will be smooth sailing, according to him.

Mr Aseka said Mumias is able to make a Sh40 billion turnover with Sh10 billion profits annually if all systems are up and running.

“We are on the right footing. When I took over, farmers arrears stood at Sh900 million but now they stand at Sh600 million. I am projecting to clear all outstanding arrears as soon as possible,” he said.

Mr Aseka once worked at the miller as a factory manager before moving to the Agriculture and Food Authority’s Sugar Directorate.

While some experts and local leaders believe that he has the mettle to put the plant back on a recovery path and win confidence of more than 100,000 growers in the expansive sugar region, others say it will be a hard nut to crack because of the numerous challenges facing the cash-strapped once gem of western Kenya.

The miller was once the economic mainstay of Western region before fortunes turned south. So far it has received Sh3.2 billion from the government in bailouts without no major success according to its financial results.

The main challenge facing the State owned factory is lack of raw materials to crush and farmers’ arrears.

Many growers abandoned the cash crop to venture into other enterprises due to frustrations and dwindling returns.

To address the issue of cane shortage, the management has initiated outreach programmes within its growing zones to persuade growers back to their farms.

Mr Aseka who has been meeting farmers in every sub-county assured that that the factory is up and running and he needs their support to stabilise its operations.

He said the management was committed to paying farmers seven days after delivering their crop.

“We are committed to cane development that’s why the miller was projecting to acquire 350 hectares of cane from the current 100 to remain stable in its operation,” he said.

Apart from sugar, Mumias produces other things among them water, electricity and ethanol.

Mr Aseka said the factory was crushing between 4,000 and 6,000 tonnes of cane per day and had resumed the sale of electricity to the national grid at between 14 and 16 megawatts daily.

“Our power station is the biggest in Western (Kenya). We are able to produce 36 megawatts. We use 12 megawatts internally,” said the chief executive.

Put to good use

The manager with over 35 years’ experience in the sugar business says he put to good use the Sh500 million he received last year from the government.

The chief executive says the money was used to revive the miller, helped clear the arrears owed to farmers and also cleared employees’ nine month salary arrears.

Mr Aseka said he has sealed loopholes used by unscrupulous individuals at the firm to loot and misuse company resources.

Mr Dennis Okoyo, a farmer from Matungu Sub County who uprooted cane from his 10 acre piece said he is willing to grow the crop and supply to Mumias if the miller pays them on time and eliminate deductions from proceeds.

Mr Okoyo said the current leadership has shown willingness to work with farmers adding that many people depend on the income to take sustain their families.

“We will work with our new CEO to ensure the plant gets enough raw material. We don’t want our only source of livelihood to die,” he said.

To bring back the sugar firm to optimum operation, promote its efficiency and implement its five year turnaround strategy, the company is seeking a Sh4 billion bailout.

Mr Aseka said the money should be released in tranches based on need adding that the company has the potential of making profit to boost the economy of the region and the country.

“We would plough Sh1.5 billion into cane development and factory maintenance and spent the rest on urgent obligations,” he said.

Mr Aseka who has also worked with Masinde Muliro University said Sh9 billion owed to creditors could only be cleared if the miller begins making profits.

He dismissed claims that the company was repackaging cheap imported sugar as a Mumias brand.

“We have enough sugar in our warehouse. No imported sugar has been brought in and repackaged by the management,” he said.

The sugar miller’s chairman, Kenneth Ngumbau, said the factory could contribute up to 45 per cent of the region’s gross domestic product and six per cent nationally if it is made to operate efficiently.

Mr Ngumbau said the plant will conduct a financial audit to establish how a Sh3.2 billion bailout by the government was utilized.

He said the board had invited Government agencies to audit the firm’s financial systems and make the findings public adding that the probe targets former managers in the finance and procurement departments.

“We shall commission thorough investigations and audit various departments to establish how the money was spent, “he said.

Mumias East MP Benjamin Washiali and his Navakholo counterpart Emmanuel Wangwe said the government was ready to work with Mumias as long as they show their output.


Usual day for CSs whose fate is in limbo

By DAVID MWERE
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A majority of the 13 Cabinet Secretaries who were left out in the list of appointees unveiled by President Uhuru Kenyatta on Friday, reported to work as usual even as their fate continues to remain unclear.

Members of staff in the affected ministries, especially personal assistants, were also anxious, fearing for their jobs. 

Prof Jacob Kaimenyi (Lands), Mr Mwangi Kiunjuri (Devolution), Dr Cleopa Mailu (Health), Ms Amina Mohamed (Foreign Affairs), Mr Willy Bett (Agriculture) and Mr Eugene Wamalwa (Water) were among those who reported to work.

“I reported to work as usual. I also attended a meeting on the budget priorities for the ‘Big Four’,” Prof Kaimenyi told the Nation.

Jubilee’s “Big Four” agenda includes food security, affordable housing, manufacturing and affordable healthcare for all.

On Friday, President Kenyatta announced he had retained six of his 20 Cabinet Secretaries, who served in his first term and nominated three new faces.

Perhaps taking caution that the President’s move may cause unnecessary panic among the CSs who were left hanging, State House Spokesman Manoah Esipisu was quick to clarify that the CSs currently in office “remain so until otherwise advised”.

OFFICIAL CAR

At Kilimo House on Monday, Mr Bett reported to work but left in his official car for a meeting leaving behind his chase car and some bodyguards at the ministry’s parking yard.

“He is out for an official meeting and he is also scheduled for another meeting later in the day at the National Treasury,” an employee at the ministry told Nation.

Ms Sicily Kariuki of Public Service was also busy in her office, and sent out a tweet announcing her ministry’s vacancy in the Kenya Youth Employment and Opportunities Project.

At Afya House, Dr Mailu went about his duties that included holding meetings with his senior staff before leaving for lunch at Nairobi Club.

The situation was the same at the Devolution ministry with Mr Kiunjuri working as usual.

“The CS has just left for another engagement within town,” a worker at the ministry told Nation.

RESTRICTED

At the Foreign Affairs office, Ms Mohamed was said to have been busy in meetings that included MPs from Northern Kenya and some colleagues in Cabinet. At Maji House, Mr Wamalwa was in as usual but left for a meeting at the Deputy President’s office, according to an employee at the ministry. The details of the meeting remained scanty.

The other CSs who reported to their offices were Ms Phyllis Kandie (East Africa Community) and Mr Adan Mohamed (Industry).

However, access was restricted to the Environment ministry of Prof Judi Wakhungu and Mining, headed by former Malindi MP Dan Kazungu.

Prof Wakhungu was finalising plans for the “Bamako Convention on the Ban of the Importation of Hazardous Wastes to Africa and Control of Transboundary Movement of Hazardous Waste”.

The conference will be held in Abidjan from January 23 to 25 and she will serve as the champion of the convention

At Kenya Commercial Bank building, which houses the Sports ministry, Mr Hassan Wario was said to be in a meeting with the ministry’s senior staff.


Jubilee and Nasa differ on vetting of Cabinet team

By JOHN NGIRACHU
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The opposition and the ruling party are headed for a clash over the vetting of nominees to the Cabinet, with the National Super Alliance demanding fresh interviews for ministers retained.

National Assembly Minority Leader John Mbadi on Monday said the nine nominees must be subjected to scrutiny by Parliament and questioned the basis of an assertion by his Majority counterpart Aden Duale that there was no need for that.

FIRST TERM

President Uhuru Kenyatta retained six Cabinet secretaries from his first term and named three fresh ones, who have to be approved by lawmakers before they are formally appointed.

Mr Mbadi said the six should be vetted, arguing that because President Kenyatta had taken the oath of office for a second time, he was setting up a new Cabinet.

“I am a third term MP. Every time I go for election, I am vetted and every time I win, I have to take a fresh oath of office,” the Suba South MP said.

“Is it not a serious level of ignorance when someone says incumbent Cabinet secretaries, once reappointed, cannot be vetted and cannot take a fresh oath of office?”

After meeting American ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec, the National Assembly Minority leader said Mr Duale’s position was a demonstration of the poor quality of legal advice the President and his team get from Attorney-General Githu Muigai.

Mr Mbadi’s stand could form the basis of debate in the National Assembly when the report of the Committee on Appointments is tabled later this month after the vetting and public questioning of the nominees.

OPPOSITION

The opposition has, however, locked itself out of the vetting since it has not submitted its membership to the committee.

Mr Mbadi said the opposition would not be involved in vetting of ministers because “we do not recognise President Kenyatta’s legitimacy”.

The National Assembly approved a motion before the December break allowing the President’s message on his nominations to go straight to the committee

That also allowed vetting to start with an invitation to the public to submit views on those nominated.

State House was last evening yet to submit the nominations and the portfolios assigned to the new faces — Mr John Munyes, Mr Ukur Yattani and Mr Keriako Tobiko — to the National Assembly despite a promise to do so.

President Kenyatta retained Mr Henry Rotich (National Treasury), Mr James Macharia (Transport and Infrastructure) Dr Fred Matiang’i, (Interior and Co-ordination of National Government and acting Education CS), Mr Charles Keter (Energy), Mr Joe Mucheru (ICT) and Mr Najib Balala (Tourism), creating the impression that he had dismissed the other 13.

TERM LIMIT

Mr Duale said the Constitution gave the President the power to reassign a Cabinet secretary and did not fix a term limit, meaning that those retained continue working without reaffirming their allegiance to the country and their jobs.

He said the law shows how a Cabinet minister can assume office or resign and gives the President the power to reassign or dismiss them.

Mr Duale added the law mandates the President to dismiss a minister if the House passes a resolution to that effect.

“From this reading, it becomes apparent that upon approval for appointment by the House, a Cabinet secretary serves at the pleasure of the President unless he or she resigns or is dismissed,” the Majority Leader said.

“He or she may also be reassigned within the Cabinet.”

The Garissa Town MP added that the approval of a Cabinet secretary was not limited to a particular portfolio but to the office.

FRESH APPROVAL

“As such, reassignment to a different portfolio does not change the nature and functions of the office of a Cabinet secretary hence discounting any need for fresh approval.

Indeed, a close reading of Article 152 reveals that the term of office of a Cabinet secretary is not attached to either the term of a President, the term of Parliament, or a particular portfolio,” he said.

Mr Duale added that a change in the presidency does not affect the tenure of the Cabinet secretary unless he or she resigns or the incoming president dismisses them.

He referred to the American model where secretaries such as Henry Kissinger and Robert Gates served under different presidents.

Mr Kissinger was Secretary of State under presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, while Mr Gates was Secretary for Defence under George Bush and Barack Obama.

In President Kenyatta’s first term, Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Monica Juma’s nomination as Secretary to the Cabinet was rejected by the National Assembly.

She remained in the Interior ministry for a while but was then not vetted when she was reassigned to the Foreign Affairs ministry, her current posting.


Be flexible in quest, US tells opposition

By JOHN NGIRACHU
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American ambassador Robert Godec has asked the National Super Alliance to be more flexible in its demands for dialogue with President Uhuru Kenyatta, even as its parliamentary leaders insisted that January 30 was the deadline for the talks with Jubilee Party.

In separate meetings with Minority Leaders John Mbadi of the National Assembly and Moses Wetang’ula of the Senate, the ambassador, however, admitted that Jubilee and Nasa had different ideas on what would be discussed in these anticipated meetings.

The two leaders indicated in their briefings to the press after meeting Mr Godec that there was no progress on that front and the opposition would go ahead and activate its options, starting with the planned swearing-in of Mr Raila Odinga as president.

“The ambassador’s position is that we need to find another way of addressing this matter because, despite the challenges, elections were held. He has made it clear that he is not for the swearing-in, so you didn’t expect him to change his mind,” Mr Mbadi said after the meeting in his office.

The American envoy has been in constant communication with both sides, Mr Mbadi said, but had admitted that the two sides had different ideas on the national dialogue.

There is an apparent sense of frustration on the part of the envoy as President Kenyatta has said he is only ready to discuss with the opposition how to strengthen the economy and other things unrelated to elections, which he says are in the past.

On Monday, Mr Wetang’ula also spoke of the opposition’s frustrations in pursuing “electoral justice”.

He, however, said that Nasa would not bend over backwards for dialogue, on which its rivals were not keen.

“If we stretch out our hands and palms, but our colleagues have clenched their fists, then it’s unlikely there will be a handshake. And when there are no such reciprocal behaviour, so to speak, then we as Nasa have clearly outlined what our courses of action are,” said Mr Wetang’ula.


CBK on the spot as board cancels new-look currency printing tender

By BRIAN NGUGI
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The Central Bank has been put on the spot after the procurement watchdog nullified the award of a Sh10 billion-a-year tender for printing of the new-look currency to British firm, De La Rue International.

The Public Procurement Administrative Review Board (PPARB) terminated the contract after a week-long hearing in which Swedish firm Crane AB, through lawyer James Gitau Singh, accused CBK of breaching the law in awarding the deal to De La Rue by giving it a 15 per cent margin preference for having local shareholding.

De La Rue beat German firm Giesecke & Devrient, Crane Currency and Oberthur Fiduciaire of France last year to the lucrative contract for printing new notes that are in compliance with the Constitution.

CBK in a statement Monday said it would appeal the review board’s decision at the High Court.

The PPARB panel comprising chairman Paul Gicheru and members Hussein Were, Peter Bita Ondieki and Paul Ngotho called the process of the award to De La Rue “unlawful”, saying CBK abused the 15 per cent local preference clause.

“…De La Rue International Limited was unlawfully awarded the tender for the printing and supply of the new design Kenya currency and bank notes and the application of a 15 per cent preference margin in its favour was unlawful,” ruled the board. “The award of the said tender is hereby annulled.”

The agency further directed the CBK to make a fresh evaluation of the tenders submitted to it within a fortnight.

“(CBK) is directed to undertake a fresh evaluation of all the tenders submitted to it by all the four bidders who participated in the tender process herein and complete the said process within a period of 14 days,” ordered the board.

The agency ruled that De La Rue did not qualify for the preference margin of 15 per cent applied, adding that it was not the lowest evaluated bidder.

De La Rue has had a stranglehold on the Kenya’s lucrative money printing business except for the period between 1966 and 1985 when notes were printed by UK firm Bradbury Wilkinson, later acquired by De La Rue.

The ruling marks yet another botched contract by the CBK.

It means Kenyans have to wait longer to get a much awaited new-look currency. The production of new currency notes that do not bear the images of former presidents was supposed to start after passage of the 2010 Constitution. Kenya must replace all currency with completely new bank notes as the Constitution adopted in 2010 prohibits the use of an individual’s portrait on the legal tender.

The planned replacement will cost Sh18 billion, according to CBK estimates. “The Central Bank of Kenya intends to proceed to the High Court of Kenya to appeal against this determination, as provided for in the law,” said CBK yesterday.

CBK, which was represented by lawyer Ochieng Oduol, sought to have the case heard in camera citing national security concerns.


Ward reps sue salaries team in dispute over allowances

By MAUREEN KAKAH
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The salaries commission is facing a fresh legal battle over its decision to review pay for State officers working in county governments.

In a suit filed by County Assemblies Forum (CAF) on Monday, the ward representatives have protested against the decision by Salaries and Remuneration Commission to review the State officers’ pay and benefits downwards, saying it has affected effective functioning of devolution.

Through lawyer James Mbugua, the ward reps termed the decision unreasonable, discriminatory, arbitrary and against their legitimate expectation.

CAF claimed it has made futile attempts to engage the commission to reverse the decision since the matter was published in a gazette notice dated July 7, 2017, before opting to go to court.

The MCAs argue the decision denies them the right to annual salary increment, mortgage, transport and other benefits accorded State officers.

“The implementation of the impugned decision will unduly undermine the due and efficient operation of the 47 county assemblies as well as governments,” said Mr Mbugua.

The ward reps have accused SRC of failing to conduct a study on the labour market efficiency and dynamics, a survey of the prevailing economic situation and a comprehensive job evaluation.

SRC has also been accused of failing to consult the public before making its decision which affects State officers working in both levels of government, the Senate and constitutional commissions.

SITTING ALLOWANCE

In the case documents, CAF claims it complied with the disputed gazette notice even though it is dissatisfied with the “lower, unfair and patently erroneous ranking” accorded State officers serving in counties.

Apart from being accorded a fixed monthly gross salary, the SRC abolished special responsibility allowance and mileage, and reduced the sitting allowance.

The MCAs argue that the commission failed to take into account the guiding principles.

In the said perks, the majority and minority leaders were entitled to Sh32,000 special responsibility allowance, the Chief Whip and deputy Sh29,000, committee chairpersons

Sh26,000, their deputies Sh23,000 and members of the Speakers panel Sh20,000.

The sitting allowance for the chairpersons was between Sh6,500 and Sh8,000 but was slashed to Sh5,000 per sitting and Sh3,000 for vice chairpersons.

The ward representatives, therefore, want court to properly define the jurisdiction of the commission with regard to the county governments.

“There is a great public interest and an immediate need for the court to interpret and pronounce itself on the relationship between SRC and county governments,” said Mr Mbugua.


PS raises red flag over mass failure of teacher trainees

By OUMA WANZALA
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The government has raised a red flag about mass failure of teacher trainees in national examinations that were administered by the Kenya National Examination Council (Knec).

This is after it emerged that more than 5,000 trainees out of 12,000 that sat the examination in 2016 failed or were made to repeat.

Education Principal Secretary Belio Kipsang said the government was dissatisfied with the primary teacher (PTE) examination results in various colleges.

“A glimpse at the results shows that many students have either failed or been referred and the TTCs offering the school-based teacher training programme are the affected most. Some TTCs have as many as 400 referrals and many failures, which is unacceptable,” said Dr Kipsang.

He went on: “Clearly something is wrong and this cannot be allowed to continue. I have been informed that in the previous years, most public TTCs have been performing well, with one or two colleges registering a few referrals and failures.”

Dr Kipsang is now calling on principals of the institutions to conduct a postmortem on the results collectively and identify the problem and possible solution.

“We have to review the school-based programme if it is affecting quality of the regular programme,” said Dr Kipsang during a college principals conference in Mombasa recently.

He noted that training of early childhood education teachers in TTCs will harmonise instructions and asked institutions with facilities to introduce the programme.

“The teacher training curriculum will now and again be reformed so that it is in tandem with changes in the teaching methodologies,” he said.

POLITICAL PRESSURE

He said conversion of TTCs to university colleges as a result of political pressure was a hindrance to the development of the sector.

According to the chairman of Kenya Teachers Colleges Association James Wachaga, the subject that had most referrals and failures was Social Studies.

“On our side teachers were able to cover syllabus and I believe lack of efforts on the side of students could have contributed to the failures,” said Mr Wachaga.

The trainee teachers sat exams in eight subjects.

“Our deans of students looked at the results and in some cases some students did not even attempt some questions. We hope Knec will give us a report so that we can look at what went wrong,” added Mr Wachaga.