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Brace for tough times, CS tells betting firms

By Protus Onyango | July 4th 2020
Senate Majority Whip Irungu Kang'ata, Interior CS Fred Matingi and Muranga Governor Mwangi wa Iria, during a meeting at KICD in Nairobi, to discuss development issues yesterday. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

Government will not allow rogue betting companies to operate in the country and will appeal Parliament’s decision to scrap excise duty on all bets.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Dr Fred Matiang’i yesterday said the government is not reviewing laws it introduced to regulate the multi-billion shillings betting sector.

Social media debates

“I have heard many debates on social media about resumption of betting. But I assure you we are not going back on the decisions we took on betting and gambling.

“President Uhuru Kenyatta is firm on this matter and we have his word to streamline this sector,” Matiang’i said yesterday. The CS said that though the Executive respects the decision taken by Parliament to scrap the 20 per cent excise duty introduced last year on betting, the decision will be reviewed.

“National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani has already expressed his intention to seek an amendment to the Finance Act 2020 to introduce the excise duty on betting by December,” Matiang’i said at Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) in Nairobi.

Kenyatta signed the Finance Act 2020 into law, scrapping the 20 per cent excise duty introduced last year, as part of efforts to regulate gambling and boost government revenue.

“We have not done anything in this sector for one year. The problem was at the licensing unit. But we have streamlined this and we are not going to allow someone one to register crooks from Eastern Europe to come and destroy our families and young people again,” Matiang’i said.

Last year, betting firms BetIn and SportPesa closed shop following protracted court battles with the Kenya Revenue Authority over taxes. 

Matiang’i spoke when he hosted six Cabinet colleagues in a meeting with leaders from Murang’a County, including Governor Mwangi wa Iria, Senator Irungu Kang’ata and MPs to review development projects in the region.

“We have been directed by the president to meet with leaders of Murang’a. We are grateful that we have agreed to jointly work together to ensure the projects are delivered on time,” Matiang’i, who is chair National Development Implementation and Communication Cabinet Committee, said.

The meeting was attended by Prof George Magoha (Education), Mutahi Kagwe (Health), Charles Keter (Power), James Macharia (Infrastructure), Peter Munya (Agriculture) and Joe Mucheru (ICT), several principal secretaries and representatives from the Presidential Delivery Unit.

“We are very happy with what the President is doing. By sending his most senior officials to come and meet us is indicative that he is keen to keeping his promises he made to the people of Murang’a,” wa Iria said.

He said they talked about roads, water, energy, education and health. [The writer is a 2019/2020 Bertha Fellow]

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