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Betting Firms win tax row on bet Winnings

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It was a reprieve for betting firms after the court ruled against a punter’s stake in a bet being charged the 20 percent tax on winnings.

The ruling was made by Tax Appeals Tribunal sitting in Nairobi which ruled that the 20 percent tax should be charged on the positive difference between the payout made and stakes placed in a given month.

The verdict was a blow to the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) has been demanding billions of shillings from betting firms based on the gross amount of the payout to the customers, including the staked amount.

A greater responsibility for payment of the tax was placed on the punters, partially shielding the betting firms from prosecution and aggressive pursuit of the 20 percent withholding tax.

The tribunal has now tilted the balance in favour gaming firms in the ongoing tax dispute between KRA and more than 20 betting firms.
The tax collector has been demanding Sh61 billion from the betting firms for the period between May 2014 and March 2019.

Some of the betting firms affected included Sportpesa which halted operations in Kenya due to a drastic hike in taxes on betting stakes and the unresolved disputes with KRA as Betin Kenya also closed shop, citing the heavy taxation as the main reason.

Sportpesa and Betin were among the betting companies whose licences were suspended in July, owing to, among other claims that they had not been presenting a true picture of their earnings and ended up grossly underpaying their taxes.

The move to shut operations has affected thousands of direct and indirect jobs together with various sponsorships of activities in the country.

The imposition of a 20 per cent excise duty on the entire amount staked appears to be what had pushed the company to consider exiting Kenya.
Kenya’s Parliament in mid-September passed the Finance Bill 2019, which has clauses that will introduce the 20 per cent excise duty on staked amounts.

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Standard Chartered Bank feted as Best Digital Bank in Kenya

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Nairobi, June 3rd, 2020 – Standard Chartered Bank has been voted as the best digital bank in Kenya by the Global Banking and Finance Awards.

The Bank was also feted as the Most Innovative Retail Banking app and the Best corporate bank in Kenya, 2020.

Commenting on the Awards, Standard Chartered Bank Head of Retail Banking, Edith Chumba said that the Bank had made strategic investments in technology that complements the bank’s innovative drive at a time when technology has become a core part of clients’ daily lives.

“The awards are a testament to the fact that our digital transformation strategy is already paying off. Digitalization remains a core part of our business strategy and we take pride in being voted the best digital bank in Kenya and the most innovative retail banking app 2020,” she said.

She also noted that the digital transformative agenda implemented by the bank was in a bid to disrupt the erstwhile ways of banking and replace that with a more conventional way of banking whilst improving customer experience.

Chumba went on to add that the bank has continued to evolve with its customers, a move that has seen the Standard Chartered Mobile platform deliver more than 52 percent of all service requests and manage 50 percent of all bank service requests coming through the bank’s digital channel.

 The Standard Chartered mobile platform was launched with more than 70 digitally accessible services to customers with its versatility allowing the bank to scale further and introduce other functionalities that are geared towards convenience, enabling clients to bank with ease.

The awards demonstrate how the Standard Charted Bank has leveraged on technology to reach the untapped and marginalized market segments while using innovation to enhance service delivery.

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Jambojet Introduces COVID-19 Safety Measures

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Nairobi, Kenya- 3rd June, 2020 Regional low-cost carrier Jambojet has introduced a raft of measures to ensure its passengers and crew are protected from contracting the novel COVID-19 during travel.

Jambojet is readying itself  as part of efforts to ensure the safety and well-being of its passengers during travel once operations resume once the ban is lifted.

Jambojet acting CEO, Karanja Ndegwa, said the measures taken include thorough sanitisation of aircrafts with industry approved detergent before and after each flight paying extra attention to all touch prone areas.

Additionally, the aircraft have been fitted with High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filtration system that refresh the air every 3 minutes.

 “We remain committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of our employees and customers from the moment they arrive at the airport to the time they land at their destination. Once we resume operations, we will ensure that we continue to follow the set guidelines by the Ministry of Health, WHO, IATA and other relevant bodies,” said Mr Ndegwa.

Additionally, temperature checks will be done on arrival at the airport and hand sanitisers will be provided at all customer touch points.

All passengers and crew will be required to wear facemask throughout the journey and observe social distancing on all queues and at the lounge. The Cabin Crew will assist passengers with opening and closing of the overhead bins to reduce touch.

“We are encouraging our customers to check-in online on www.jambojet.com to minimise queues at the airport. We have also updated our boarding procedures, where passengers will be boarded by zone starting with those seating at the rear of the cabin,” he said.

Jambojet halted operations on  April 7th, 2020 after the President of Kenya’s directive on cessation of movement by road, rail or air in and out of Nairobi, Mombasa, Kilifi and Kwale counties to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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Norfolk Hotel Closes Operations and Sacks Employees

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The gardens of Norfolk Hotel in Nairobi

The management of the 116 year old Fairmont Hotels and Resorts Kenya has closed its doors and fired employees over projected effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on business.

In a memo seen by Kenyaonlinenews.com, to the staff dated May 27, 2020, the country manager Mehdi Morad said owing to the uncertainty of the direction the global pandemic will take, they have been forced to terminate employee contracts and close their properties.

The Fairmont Hotels and Resorts said they are going to close Fairmont The Norfolk and Fairmont Mara Safari Cub as a result of “spiral effect of the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent flooding of Fairmont Mara Safari Club”.

“Due to the uncertainty of when and how the impact of the global Pandemic will result in the business picking up in the near future, we are left with no option but to close down the business indefinitely,” Mr Morad said in the memo.

“It is therefore the decision of the management to terminate the Services of all its employees due to “frustration” by way of mutual separation and taking into account the loyalty and dedication the employees have put into the success of our company in the previous years.”

Employees will receive their termination letters by next week June 5, 2020.

Fairmont joins a growing list of hotels that have closed or suspended operation due to effects of coronavirus.

Most five-star hotels rely on tourism, events and conferences which have since dried up.

In March, Nairobi’s Tribe Hotel, Ole Sereni and DusitD2 stopped operations days after the government imposed travel restrictions and social distancing rules to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Other high-end hotels followed suit to cut costs as the pandemic drags on.

Restrictions on foreigners coming into Kenya have delivered a big hit to the country’s tourism industry, which brought in Sh163.56 billion last year.

Most hotels have reported occupancy rates of well below 10 percent against 75 percent normally.

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