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Archive for August 1st, 2011

Retired civil servants get pension increase

Posted by Administrator on August 1, 2011

Pensioners. Growth of civil servants’ pension bill has been a headache for the government. File

Pensioners. Growth of civil servants’ pension bill has been a headache for the government. File

Retired civil servants have received a three per cent rise on their monthly pension as the State adjusts the payout to match the rising cost of living.

Retirees will, beginning August, receive a minimum increment of Sh400 on the benefits, inflating  an ever-rising pension bill that is expected to exceed Sh34.4 billion in the current financial year.

The pension bill, currently double the Sh16 billion paid out five years ago, continues to diminish the government’s ability to invest in development projects as more resources are directed to social welfare to cater for a bigger number of retirees.

“The State reviews the pension payouts to all retirees every two years to cater for the higher cost of living,” said pensions department public relations officer Michael Joseph Obonyo. In the new arrangement, pensioners previously earning less than Sh13,321 will receive an additional Sh400, while  those earning more qualify for a three per cent increment.

Data shows that the cost of living shot up to 15.5 per cent in July, mainly on rising food and energy prices, which means that the ability of pensioners to maintain a certain level of living is significantly reduced.

Growth of the civil servants’ pension bill has been a headache for the government as the expenses are met with proceeds from tax revenue in the current financial year, exposing workers to a heavier burden.

But it is the dilemma on competing requirements for funding that presents the State with an immediate challenge. Last year, the State raised the retirement age of its workers to 60 years from 55 years, with the intention of setting up a contributory scheme within the five-year  period of suppressed growth on the pension bill.

Even with a minimal number of retirees expected to leave the civil service till 2016, past delays in reviewing pension dues for State workers to reflect their adjusted salary payments resulted in a Sh16 billion debt pile-up that the government has decided to stagger over the period.

As a result, the pension bill for civil servants is expected to hit Sh40 billion in the next two years, meaning that more resources will be needed to meet the cost of the retirees.  Should a contributory scheme be in put place, the State as an employer will also be mandated to make a contribution to the retirees’ kitty to guarantee its workers a steady income in retirement.

Contributory scheme

A contributory scheme requires that members set aside part of their monthly incomes into a pool that is invested with the intention of providing a regular stream of payments upon retirement of contributors. While the contributory scheme is yet to be established, Treasury officials have blamed the delay on lack of a regulatory framework that would enable the setting up of such a scheme.


Source: http://www.businessdailyafrica.com/Corporate+News/Retired+civil+servants+get+pension+increase/-/539550/1211756/-/wqbjvgz/-/index.html

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HIV change blocks treatment plan

Posted by Administrator on August 1, 2011

Photo/FILE New mutant strains could compromise the gains made against HIV.

Photo/FILE New mutant strains could compromise the gains made against HIV.

The Aids virus is blocking efforts to provide all infected Kenyans with anti-retroviral drugs, according to new evidence.

Mater and Coast General hospitals have discovered that after being exposed to anti-retrovirals for some years, the virus has changed (mutated) with most new infections not reacting to common drugs.

According to local and international medical researchers who investigated newer infections in six African countries, new mutant strains could compromise the gains made against HIV.

The study published on Thursday in the medical journal, The Lancet, was conducted by the two hospitals.

The medical researchers looked at the virus among newly infected people who had not used anti-retrovirals and found strains that were already drug resistant, which means some hard-to-treat strains have appeared.

Although this has been suspected for some time there was no evidence on how widespread the mutant strains are in the region.

The study associated extensive use of anti-retrovirals with the emerging resistant strains in Africa.

New medicine

Ideally Kenya should adopt new and more effective medicines but this could be expensive, according to the head of the National Aids/STD Control Programme (NASCOP), Dr Nicolas Muraguri.

“The alternative is to improve patient monitoring and their adherence to doctors’ instructions in the short term.”

The research focused on groups of HIV-infected adults since 2007 who had not started anti-retroviral treatment from 11 regions in Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Uganda was found to have the highest HIV drug resistance rate at 12.3 per cent, South Africa1.1 per cent and Kenya 4.9 per cent in Mombasa and 4.5 per cent in Nairobi.

The researchers say the higher drug resistance in Uganda could be related to early start of ART in the country in the 1990s compared to Kenya where the treatment was accelerated almost four years ago with close to 450,000 HIV positive people being covered now.

The risk of primary resistance in a region, was found to increase by 38 per cent for each additional year passed since the start of the local anti-retroviral roll-out.

“Our findings support the hypothesis that widespread distribution of anti-retrovirals in Africa is driving the emergence of primary drug resistance, which has public health implications,” the report stated.

This situation is different in developed countries which have newer and more effective drugs, consistent medicine supply and good patient monitoring.

Source: http://www.nation.co.ke/News/HIV+change+blocks+treatment+plan+/-/1056/1211980/-/2dcpioz/-/index.html

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Hundreds of Kenyans set to lose jobs over power cuts

Posted by Administrator on August 1, 2011

Photo/FILE Factory workers load tea leaves on the conveyor belts after weighing to be processed.

Photo/FILE Factory workers load tea leaves on the conveyor belts after weighing to be processed.

Hundreds of workers in the tea and flower sectors are at risk of losing jobs due to power rationing.

The Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU) said some 200,000 workers in the tea industry and more than 100,000 others in the flower sector are likely to be laid off due to a decline in the production rate.

“Some companies have resorted to having their employees operating on shifts to help cut down on production costs,” said KPAWU national treasurer Joshua Oyuga.

He said other companies were resorting to generators to operate during blackouts, which translates to huge costs.

“The increased cost of fuel means some tea and flower companies have to operate for less hours with a limited number of workers,” said Mr Oyuga.

Kenya Power is faced with a shortage of 90 megawatts, which has to be obtained from emergency generators, resulting in higher bills.

At the same time, the Public Investment Committee has asked the government to come up with subsidised power and water tariffs to cushion Kenyans against the high cost of living.

Speaking during a fact-finding mission at Kirandich Dam in Baringo County on Monday, the committee chairman, Mr  Mithika Linthuri, said that it was the government’s duty to ensure Kenyans lead decent lives.

Mr Linthuri, who is also the Igembe South MP, stressed the need for concerted efforts among all stakeholders in addressing the power crisis.

He stressed the need for the government to invest in hydro-power generation to address the problem.

In Kisumu County, Agro Chemical and Food Company marketing manager Caleb Oguya said: “Power rationing is affecting us badly.”

Kisumu-based Spectre International Ltd sales and marketing director Ruth Adhiambo said: “Whenever there is a power cut and 50,000 litres of molasses are not processed, the firm makes a loss of Sh4 million.”

In Kericho said they anticipated losses due to the power rationing. Kericho Chamber of Commerce chairman Samson Koskei said the business community was bracing for losses.

By Abiud Ochieng, Erick Oloo, Nyambega Gisesa and Benedict Tirop

Source: http://www.nation.co.ke/News/Hundreds+set+to+lose+jobs+over+power+cuts+++/-/1056/1211950/-/13dyuj3z/-/

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