KPMG on Kenya Taxes in 2020

Last month, Kenya’s President announced proposals to cushion residents from impacts of the Coronavirus that has affected many industries and companies by disrupting supply chains and reducing consumer spending. He cited measures such as reduction of income taxes, and Value-Added Tax (VAT goes down from 16% to 14%), that have now taken root in April 2020.

But the details of the proposal are now clear with the publication of the tax laws amendments. They are contained in a 97-page bill that is to be tabled at and debated at a special session of Kenya’s National Assembly (Parliament) on Wednesday, April 8, for their approval.

KPMG East Africa has nicely summarized some of the proposals in the bill, picking through the details. Some notable items are:

  • VAT: Items that were previously exempt including bread, milk cream, vaccines, and medicaments, move from the zero list to the VAT exempt list, and this may push up their costs.
  • Items that previously did not incur VAT but which will now be charged 14% include agricultural pest control products, tourism park fees, LPG, helicopters, mosquito nets, equipment for solar & wind energy, museum exhibits & specimens, tractors, clean cookstoves, insurance services, and helicopter leasing which previously did not attract VAT.
  • For investors: VAT is now charged on the transfer of a business as a going concern, as well as on assets transfers to real estate investment trusts (REIT’s) and asset-backed securities.
  • Income tax: Is reduced across different bands with those earning below Kshs 24,000 per month exempted from paying income tax, while the tax rate for top earners goes down from 30% to 25%.
  • Non-residents will pay 15% withholding tax on dividends they receive, an increase from the current 10%.
  • Corporate tax: This reduces from 30% to 25%.
  • Businesses earning between Kshs 500,000 to Kshs 50 million a year are to pay turnover tax, which will now be reduced from 3% to 1% of income, monthly. The previous upper limit was Kshs 5 million.
    It is now mandatory for businesses to keep records of all their transaction for 5 years
  • Anti-industry moves?: An electricity rebate for manufacturers has been ended, VAT has been introduced on goods used to build large industrial parks, and there will also be reductions of building investment allowances.
  • Kenya Revenue Authority: When KRA appoints banks as revenue collection agents, they are to remit collections to the Central Bank of Kenya within two days.
  • Removes a requirement that KRA publishes tax rulings in newspapers.
  • KRA may pay rewards of up to Kshs 500,000 for people who give information leading to tax law enforcement (i.e whistleblowers). 

The National Assembly will also consider regulations of a new Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund that the President announced on March 30. They will also dispense with appointments to the CDF board and the Teachers Service Commission, and consider any bills from the Senate.

So while Parliament debates this under the rush of emergency provisions, most of the clauses are financial items unrelated to Coronavirus.

Investment deal-making amid Corona

The East Africa Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (EAVCA) held a webinar today about the impact of Coronavirus, which appears to be a black swan event, on deal-making at private equity firms in the region.

It featured private equity (PE) and venture capital (VC) industry experts, Charles Omanga (Horizon Africa), Nigel Smith (KPMG), Paras Shah (Bowman’s Law) and Ananya Sengupta (PWC), with Kanini Mutooni (Toniic Institute) as the session moderator.

Excerpts from the session:

Coronavirus Impact:

  • Valuations A new challenge is convincing entrepreneurs that this is the value of the business because of Corona and when you come out of the pandemic how soon will it normalize – CO
  • “EBITDAC” (not EBITDA) will be a new measure of company performance and there will be discussions about measuring business valuations “before” and “after” Corona – NS
  • Businesses have had continuity plans, but none had foreseen such scenarios – shutdowns, closures of school, travel restrictions for extended periods etc – AS

Deal Pipelines:

  • The biggest request so far from investors is to scenario plan immediately on how long will Corona will take and what impact it will have on the businesses? Some deals will fall away – CO 
  • European and American investors are still sending enquiries for long term investments here – PS
  • People have not walked away from deals but provided 12-18 month periods for certain ratios to be attained – NS 
  • Deal negotiations are still ongoing, with signing delayed. In other cases, parties have come to an agreement but agreed not to sign, and that if the Corona impact is bad, they will walk away – PS

Banking Challenges and Bailouts:

  • Don’t expect reputable DFI’s to default, but they will enhance due diligence before releasing funds and decisions will take longer – CO
  • While CBK has given guidelines for lenders, the banking system is not awash with liquidity – NS
  • The Government of Kenya has been fast in coming up with measures such as taxes reductions, but in terms of financial support of SME’s business and workforce, it is unable to provide support like in other countries, where some governments have stepped forward to pay private-sector salaries – NS
  • Government has not had any talks with landlords – PS 
  • Funds may need to extend the period of resounding to cash calls beyond the current 10-14 days – NS

Opportunities:

  • Some local audit/consulting firms have seen an increase in the volume of work as PE firms are not able to come in and do their due diligence here. They are now asking local firms that can mobilize teams to digitize and upload data needed for transaction decisions – NS
  • Local manufacturers in pharmaceuticals and health will do well; also online education online entertainment and medical insurance – CO
  • Regulators have adopted technology to allow online filings and government agencies have been impressive – PS 
  • A good thing about crisis makes people think differently – and the judiciary is semi-open, with judges delivering rulings are online, but registries remain closed. This is an opportunity for Kenya to shine with its use of technology – PS
  • Tax cuts were offered by the Government, and if they stay that way, that will be positive  – PS 
  • Clean Funding: After days of shutdown, the world has come to realize the impact of clean technology is and how important it will be to invest in areas that clean the environment – AS

Advice for Businesses:

  • In a black swan event, Nicholas Taleb advises firms to exploit positive consequences and minimize negative ones – KM 
  • Force majeure clauses in Kenyan contracts, such as leases. are not common or robust, but there will be more of them going forward – PS 
  • Firms should engage with their banks, supplier and landlords – and fund managers should assist in arranging such discussions – PS
  • If a fund is already fundraising, proceed until you are not able to do more – AS
  • Some deal partners are DFI’s (e.g. IFC, DFID) that have emergency funding available for investees to draw down as loans or working capital. That happened during Ebola and now for Corona – AS

You can watch the webinar on YouTube.

Kenya’s Top 10 Banks in 2020

Factoring in the absorption of their new NBK subsidiary, KCB’s numbers increased their lead at the top of Kenya’s bank table, with assets of Kshs 786 billion (~$7.86 billion). They are followed by Equity (Kshs 507 billion assets), which also increased its capital by almost Kshs 30 billion – probably muscle for its regional deals.

The only major change is with NCBA entering the top 3, after the assets and liabilities of NIC were transferred into CBA in October 2019. NCBA had bank assets of Kshs 465 billion and a pre-tax profit of Kshs 9.2 billion that was further reduced by exceptional merger costs of Kshs 1.1 billion.

The financial statements published today are a continuation of CBA’s and they show that timing of the transfer resulted in a “bargain purchase gain” of Kshs 4.1 billion.

Cooperative Bank is fourth (Kshs 449 billion assets), but may overhaul NCBA by the end the year, while fifth is Absa Kenya whose 2019 results were announced yesterday.

An interesting race mix is next with Standard Chartered, Stanbic Bank and Diamond Trust all closely bunched at about Kshs 300 billion of assets, and rounding out the top ten are I&M and Baroda Bank.

The year 2020 has started with a lot of economic uncertainty economic caused by the Corona virus pandemic with the possibility of strain at some banks. At their results briefing yesterday, Absa Kenya CEO Jeremy Awori said that such times also create opportunities for new partnerships as Absa’s growth plans include targeted acquisitions and disposals. Already Jamii Bora and Cooperative banks are in discussions about a buyout, while there are other small banks that were already in need of a boost.

Comparative Rankings (to last year):
1 (1 + 12) KCB. (+NBK)
2 (2) Equity.
3 (8 + 10) NCBA.
4 (3) Co-operative.
5 (4) Absa (Barclays) Kenya.
6 (5) Standard Chartered Kenya
7 (7) Stanbic Kenya.
8 (6) Diamond Trust.
9 (9) I & M.
10 (11) Baroda.

Absa Kenya 2019 Financial Results

Absa Kenya released its financial results for the year 2019 a year in which it completed the transition from Barclays to Absa, the third-largest financial services group in Africa.

Financial Performance: In 2019 assets grew by Kshs 50 billion to Kshs 374 billion (~$3.74 billion) which saw Absa Kenya ranked as the country’s fifth-largest bank. Deposits went up by 15% to Kshs 238 billion and loans by 10% to Kshs 194 billion. Income was up 6% over a year ago, and expenses were up 2%. Profit for the year was Kshs 12.2 billion before the exceptional item of the transitions, which continue to have an impact on their financial results, leaving a normalized after-tax profit of Kshs 8.5 billion (~$85 M).

Exceptional costs of Transition: Absa Kenya incurred an exceptional item cost of Kshs 1.5 billion, relating to the transitional services agreement with Barclays for the transition to Absa and which was completed in February 2020, ahead of schedule. During the year the bank completed the migration of over 300 technology systems including its core banking system, financial crimes altering, and card acquisition switch, that were previously housed at Barclays in the UK.

There were also the costs to rebrand 85 branches, over 200 ATM’s and 78 applications used across different platforms of the bank. The “Timiza” banking app now has 3.8 million customers and had lent over 20 billion by the end of 2019.

Investor Gains: For shareholders, the dividend for 2019 will be unchanged at Kshs 1.1 per share, comprising a final dividend of Kshs 0.9 that follows an earlier interim one of Kshs 0.2 per share. This represents a generous dividend payout of 80% of profits and currently, it is the best performing bank stock at the Nairobi Securities Exchange with a return of 39% since 2018.

Corona Virus cushion in 2020: As the world grapples with the impact of the Corona Virus outbreak, the bank has been one of the early champions of the industry reaction to enable Kenyan to continue their daily lives by encouraging customers to take up cashless transactions. Absa Kenya waived all money transfer charges between customer bank accounts and mobile wallets, including on Timiza and Pesalink while also increasing daily transition limits and also will also offer cash back of 0.3% for each use of Absa debit cards.

It also committed to ensuring that all its suppliers are paid within 14 days, with small and medium enterprise (SME) suppliers, invoicing amounts that are less than Kshs 1 million (~$10,000), to be paid within 7 days.

And in line with other banks in the country, under the Kenya Bankers Association, and guided by the Central Bank of Kenya, Absa Kenya has welcomed its customers experiencing financial strains as a result of the pandemic, to initiate discussions on restructuring of their personal and business loans, including the option of a repayment holiday of up to one year, and committed to render such decisions within seven days.

Coronavirus in Kenya: Week One

The Outbreak

  • March 13: The Ministry of Health confirms the first case of coronavirus in Kenya on March 12 from a Kenyan citizen who returned to the country from the USA via London 
  • March 22: Kenya confirms 8 new cases, bringing the total number to 15. It is tracing 363 other people and institutes a mandatory shutdown of major social activities in the country. 

Banking Industry:

  • March 15: President Uhuru Kenyatta appealed to banks and mobile operators to reduce the costs of mobile transactions and calls on Kenyans to use credit cards, mobile money and other forms of cashless payments. 
  • March 16: Safaricom waived fees for M-Pesa payments below Kshs 1,000 (~$10) for 90 days and raises M-Pesa transactions limits to Kshs 150,000 and also increases daily transaction caps and maximum mobile money wallet sizes up to Kshs 300,000 ($3,000). Airtel and Telkom Kenya follow suit a day later. 
  • March 18: Bankers meet the President at State House where the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) Governor announces that all commercial bank personal loans that were there in good standing on March 2, are eligible for extensions for up to one year while SME and corporate borrowers can approach their banks to be assessed for loan restructuring, with the cost borne by banks. Also, that banks would no longer charge fees for customers to check their bank balances.
  • Different banks announced their compliance with the new rules.   
  • March 19: The Kenya Bankers Association confirms that all banks will assist clients who come in to speak about how COVID-19 has affected their employment or business operations, and whose loan repayments were up to date as at 2 March 2020. They also ask all customers to observe 1-metre (or 3 feet) social distancing at branches
  • March 20: The CBK announces presents Kshs 7.4 billion ($74 million) to the Government to support the coronavirus fight efforts. This it says are the proceeds from the demonetization exercise that concluded in September 2019 and is the sum of (old) Kshs 1,000 notes that were not turned in and which the CBK had classified as being miscellaneous receipts. 

Famous People in Quarantine

  • March 18: Senator for Kericho County Aaron Cheruiyot announces on twitter that he is in self-quarantine. 
  • March 19: Members of Parliament and Parliamentary staff who arrived from London on March 9 are reported to be in self-quarantine. 
  • March 19: Ambassador Macharia Kamau Kenya’s Principal Secretary to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announces on twitter that he is in self-quarantine after returning from New York. 
  • March 20: Jane Marriott, the British High Commissioner to Kenya announces on twitter that she is in self-quarantine, following her trip to the UK. 
  • March 22: Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Health announces that Gideon Saburi, the Deputy Governor of Kilifi County, has been apprehended and put in a mandatory 14-day quarantine after he failed to isolate himself after returning from a trip to Germany. Also that he will be charged in Court after his isolation period. 

Mandatory Quarantine in the Eastern Africa region 

  • March 18: Uganda announces immediate mandatory quarantine for arriving visitors, at their cost.  
  • March 21: Ethiopia announces mandatory for passengers arriving from March 23, at their cost. However, diplomats will be quarantined for 14 days at their embassies, while transiting passengers will be placed in isolation at the Ethiopian Skylight Hotel until they resume their connecting flights.
  •  March 22: Kenya has suspended all international flights other than cargo from March 25. Also, all arriving passengers will undergo mandatory quarantine at a government institution at their own cost. 

Internal country shutdowns

  • March 14: Rwanda closes schools, places of worship, large gatherings, and asks people to work from home. 
  • March 15: Kenya’s President announced the Government has closed all schools, suspended official foreign travel, and will encourage all employees to work from home. 
  • March 18: Uganda closes schools, universities and bars, and bans weddings and religious services for a month. 
  • March 21: Rwanda closes its borders to movement of people and cancels international flights, other than cargo ones. It also suspended tourism and research in 3 national parks where gorillas are found.
  • March 21: Nigeria shuts its airports to international flights as coronavirus cases reach 22.  
  • March 21: South Africa closes its airspace to foreign travelers.
  • March 22: Kenya orders a suspension of religious services at all places of worship, closure of bars and bans gatherings including weddings, and birthday parties. Restaurants are to remain open for delivery services and funeral events are restricted to a maximum of 15 mourners.

Flight cancellations/ Airlines reschedulings:

  • March 17: Kenya Airways updates its schedule, reducing London flights to five times a week, Dubai & Johannesburg to once daily, and Johannesburg to two daily. It also suspends flights to Bangkok, Khartoum, Djibouti & Mogadishu. 
  • March 18: Rwanda announces a halt to all commercial passenger flights into/out of the country on March 20 including operations of Rwanda Air for 30 days. 
  • March 19: Kenya Airways suspends flights to Antananarivo, Bamako, Bangui, Blantyre, Brazzaville, Kigali, Kilimanjaro, Luanda, Yaounde/Douala, and Zanzibar. 
  • March 20: Ethiopian Airlines announces 30 routes closures. The list is not revealed till the next day – and the listed countries include Egypt, Lebanon, Somalia, Djibouti, Namibia, Equatorial Guinea, Cameroon, Chad, Madagascar, Angola, Congo, Mali, Senegal, Rwanda, South Africa, Canada, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, Indonesia, Israel and all US ones. 
  • March 20: South African Airways immediately suspends all operations until the end of May following a government notice prohibiting the embarkation/disembarkation of non-SA crew and passengers. The only flights that will remain will be domestic service between Johannesburg and Cape Town.
  • March 22: Emirates announces cancellation of all passenger flights from March 25 .. but .. 
  • March 22: Turkish Airlines to suspend most of its flights – leaving just a handful of flights to New York, Washington, Addis Ababa, Moscow & Hong Kong (via AlexinAir).
  • March 22: Kenya Airways suspends all international flights. Cargo flights remain, as will passenger services to Mombasa and Kisumu. 

Corporate Restructuring’s: 

  • March 13: Trading was suspended at the Nairobi Securities Exchange. This came following news of the discovery of the first coronavirus case in Kenya and the main share index dropped by over 5%. Past instances when circuit-et breakers have been tripped include in the period of post-election violence in 2008, and in September 2017, on the day that Kenya’s Supreme Court nullified the results of the August 8 presidential election. 
  • March 13: Kenya’s insurance regulator, IRA, communicates that insurance companies will continue to provide their services to policy holders affected or infected with the virus .. but insurance companies say their re-insurers do not cover pandemics such as Coronavirus. 
  • March 16: Ethiopian Airlines restructuring plans include scaling up cost-saving programmes and asking service providers for temporary relief, discounts and waivers. They have also started to renegotiate all contracts, including aircraft leases as well as scaling down offices and reducing staff.
  • March 16: Java adjusts seating and promotes delivery as do other restaurants. But many other restaurants closed. 
  • March 18: It was revealed that The Standard Group plans to lay off 170 workers. 
  • March 18: Churches to restrict attendance numbers.
  • March 18: The African Development Bank cancels all travels and requires staff to work from home. The Bank’s Board of Directors is reviewing the configuration and design of the Bank’s statutory Annual Meetings originally scheduled for May 26-29, 2020 in Abidjan
  • March 18: Kenyan listed companies and licensed investment schemes that were to host annual general meetings (AGM’s) in March, April and May 2020 have been asked to defer them to later dates.
  • March 20: Kenya Airways CEO sends a memo to staff following COVID-19 and writes that in the last 24 hours, nine countries in our Africa network, the UAE and India have announced travel restrictions. So far, we have reduced approximately 65% of our flights, and this is changing by the hour. He announces that instead of layoffs they will ask staff to take salary reduction and paid & unpaid leave. The leadership team and he will take 75% and 80% respectively, while that for other staff will be 25% or 50% depending on the pay grade.
  • To facilitate supermarket shopping home deliveries, Tuskys has partnered with Sendy and Naivas has partnered with Glovo.

Government Adjustments 

  • March 16: The Ministry of Lands closes all land registries for 28 days from March 17. 
  • March 16: Kenya’s Sports & Culture Ministry closes all museums, archives, stadiums, public libraries, and cinemas for 30 days.
  • March 18: Kenya’s National Assembly and Senate both go on a month-long recess. 
  • March 18: Kenyan courts embraced digital filings and rulings of cases. 
  • March 19: Public health campaign to stop the spread is launched. 

Uplifting News

  • March 21: A thread to help those losing jobs their jobs this week and to help match their skills with part-time or remote-work opportunities. 
  • March 22: The first shipment of medical relief equipment offered by the Jack Ma Foundation arrives in Africa for distribution to different countries. The total will be 500,000 test kits and one million masks had been pledged on March 13.