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NAIROBI, Sept 14, 2018 (News Wires) - The International Monetary Fund (IMF) considers that Kenya’s external position is strong, its representative in Nairobi said on Friday, adding that the Fund would continue to support its reform efforts even though a stand-by loan deal has expired.

Kenya had secured a six-month extension in March of the $989.8 million arrangement. However, the IMF set conditions for a further extension, including the repeal of a cap on commercial lending interest rates which was imposed in 2016, a move that parliament rejected in a finance bill last month.

President Uhuru Kenyatta sent the bill back to parliament on Thursday night, but what happens next regarding the rate cap is not yet clear.

IMF representative Jan Mikkelsen confirmed what the government said on Thursday: that the deal was over.

“The second review of the IMF-supported program has not been completed, and the program will expire today,” he told Reuters. “It should be stressed that Kenya’s external position remains strong and foreign exchange reserves are at a very comfortable level.”

Foreign exchange reserves stood at $8.56 billion at the end of last week, equivalent to 5.71 months’ worth of Kenyan imports, central bank data showed. The bank is required by law to hold reserves worth a minimum of four months of import cover.

The central bank expected the current account deficit to shrink to 5.4 percent of gross domestic product at the end of this year, from 5.8 percent in June, Governor Patrick Njoroge said in July.

 

NAIROBI, Sept 10, 2018 (MENA) - An Egyptian medical convoy wrapped up its week-long visit to Western Kenya as 107 specialised ophthalmic operations were carried out.

The convoy, which was sent by the Higher Education Ministry, grouped doctors and professors of the Faculty of Medicine in Alexandria University under its President Essam el Kordy, said the Egyptian Embassy in Nairobi on Monday.

This comes within the framework of Egypt's interest in promoting cooperation with African countries in various domains, the embassy added.

During the visit, the convoy worked on transferring its experience to the Kenyan doctors, the embassy asserted, noting that a cooperation protocol was inked between the Faculty of Medicine of Alexandria University and the Kenyan government.

NAIROBI, Sept 7, 2018 (News Wires) - Kenya's economic growth momentum for this year could be snuffed out if a widely unpopular 16 per cent Value Added Tax on fuel is maintained, the country's chamber of commerce said on Friday, pointing at higher prices of goods and transport.

The tax, which came into force on Sept. 1, is part of a government bid to boost revenue collection in order to narrow its fiscal deficit and secure an extension of a standby credit facility from the International Monetary Fund.

The High Court Thursday ordered a temporary suspension of the tax, but prices at petrol stations visited by Reuters on Friday had not come back down.

"We are asking the government to re-think its options for financing its development and recurrent expenditure instead of overtaxing various products that already bear large tax burdens," the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) said in a statement.

The Treasury could not immediately be reached for comment.

NAIROBI, August 30, 2018 (News Wires) - Britain is committed to continuing free trade with Kenya after it leaves the European Union, Prime Minister Theresa May said during a visit to Nairobi on Thursday.

May was speaking on the third stop of a trip to Africa during which she has said she wants Britain to become the biggest investor in the continent in Africa out of the Group of Seven nations.

“As Britain prepares to leave the European Union we are committed to a smooth transition that ensures continuity in our trading relationship with Kenya, ensuring Kenya retains its duty free quota free access to the UK market,” May said.

Britain is Kenya’s largest trading partner.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, speaking alongside May at a news conference, said he welcomed her assurance that Kenyan duty free exports would continue after Brexit and said Kenya will be pressing for an increase in exports.

He said two agreements signed on Thursday - one to enhance military cooperation, the other for Britain to return assets and proceeds of corruption to Kenya - indicated the close ties between his country and its former colonial power.

Margaret Thatcher was the last British prime minister to visit Kenya, in 1988.

NAIROBI, August 29, 2018 (New Wires) - Five Kenyan soldiers were killed and 10 wounded on Wednesday when their car ran over a homemade bomb in northern Kenya, the military said.

A Kenya Defence Forces statement did not say who it believed was responsible for the attack in coastal Lamu County although it referenced “lurking terror elements” in the region.

On Aug. 8, five soldiers were killed in an attack claimed by the Somali group al Shaabab in Lamu, according to local officials.

The al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab aims to topple Somalia’s UN-backed government and impose its own strict interpretation of Islam. They have intensified attacks in Kenya since Nairobi sent troops into Somalia in 2011.

The group has launched several attacks, including ones in which they have beheaded people, in the past year in Lamu County. Kenyan security officials say the militants have used the Boni forest straddling the Kenya-Somalia border as a hideout and base for attacks.

NAIROBI, July 4, 2018 (News Wires) – Nine people were killed and dozens injured when a bus and truck collided early on Wednesday on a busy highway southeast of Kenya’s capital, media reported.

The accident, which resulted in a fireball that incinerated both vehicles, took place near the town of Email, 125 km southeast of Nairobi, television station NTV reported.

Pictures published by Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper showed a blackened shell of a truck on its side with wreckage strewn around it.

The injured were taken to a nearby hospital, the Nation reported.

Road accidents kill between 3,000 and 13,000 Kenyans every year, according to the latest statistics on the website of the World Health Organisation (WHO).

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